News Release 

Chronic cocaine use modifies gene expression

Findings illuminate mechanism of drug memory formation

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Hippocampal neurons (green) expressing the FosB gene (red) after cocaine exposure. view more 

Credit: Gajewski et al., JNeurosci 2019

Chronic cocaine use changes gene expression in the hippocampus, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Chronic drug users learn to associate the drug-taking environment with the drug itself, reinforcing memories that contribute to addiction. These memories are thought to be created by changes in gene expression in the hippocampus and potentially involve the gene FosB, but the exact mechanism is unknown.

A.J. Robison and colleagues at Michigan State University examined how cocaine exposure affected expression of the FosB gene in the hippocampus. Mice that were administered cocaine daily showed increased expression of FosB compared to mice that received saline. Chronic cocaine use caused epigenetic modification of the gene, leading it to becoming more active. Additionally, when the scientists blocked the changes made to FosB, the mice were unable to form associations between cocaine and the environment where they received it, implicating epigenetic regulation of the gene in drug memory formation.

These results offer new insights in the molecular changes that take place in the hippocampus during chronic cocaine use. Further research in this area could lead to the development of addiction therapies.

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Manuscript title: Epigenetic Regulation of Hippocampal FosB Expression Controls Behavioral Responses to Cocaine

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About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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