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A Powerful Family of Enzymes Implicated in Cocaine's Effects Description

This figure illustrates the seven sirtuins in mammals: the brain, pancreas, intestine, blood vessels, fat tissue, and liver.A Powerful Family of Enzymes Implicated in Cocaine's Effects: Sirtuins—also called SIRTs, for "silent information regulators of transcription"—influence a wide range of functions essential for life. This family of enzymes regulates biological processes including metabolism, DNA repair, cell specialization and death, stress resistance, and tumor growth. Sirtuin activity has been linked to longevity in worms and fruit flies. Scientists have thus far identified seven sirtuins in mammals, and SIRT1 has been studied most extensively. Cocaine regulation of sirtuin appears to be specific to one brain region.

This figure shows the influence of sirtuin 1 on general biological processes throughout the body, as well as sirtuin 1's specific influences on the brain, pancreas, intestine, blood vessels, fat tissue, and liver. Within a silhouette of a person, arrows point from SIRT 1 to cellular specialization, circadian rhythms, cell breakdown, cell death, regulation of transcription, stress resistance, aging, and energy expenditure. Outside the silhouette, arrows indicate that sirtuin 1 influences the growth of new blood vessels, glucose production in the liver, fat mobilization and lipid metabolism in fat tissue, neuronal specialization in the brain, and insulin secretion in the pancreas. Arrows also indicate that sirtuin 1 decreases tumor formation in the intestine and increases resistance to neurodegeneration in the brain.

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