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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Study Assesses Functional Deficits Due to HIV and Methamphetamine Use

November 2014
Methamphetamine use and HIV infection raise the risk for functional dependence, or the need for assistance with everyday tasks. People who use methamphetamine and are HIV positive showed the highest levels of functional dependence in most domains of daily life.

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Studies Link Family of Genes to Nicotine Addiction

December 2009
Reports study results suggesting that genes for several acetylcholine receptor proteins influence early smoking responses and the likelihood of nicotine dependence.

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Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity

January 2014
Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

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Stress Receptor Mediates Lifelong Consequences of Early Trauma

November 2012
NIDA-supported research suggests that glucocorticoid receptor levels during early brain development affect the hard wiring of neural circuits that shape an individual’s basic emotional makeup. In mice, overexpression of the glucocorticoid gene in the first weeks after birth increased anxiety and response to cocaine in adulthood. These findings may help researchers understand the genetic background and the developmental trajectory of addiction.

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Stress Hormone Sets the Stage for Relapse to Cocaine Use

June 2015
A stressed rat will seek a dose of cocaine that is too weak to motivate an unstressed rat. Researchers traced the physiological pathway that links stress and the stress hormone corticosterone to increased dopamine activity and heightened responsiveness to cocaine.

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Stimulants in “Bath Salts” Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

August 2013
Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).

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Sensory Aspects of Smoking May Counter Bad Mood, Craving

October 2009
Describes study findings revealing that the act of smoking, apart from actual or expected nicotine delivery, may soothe a smoker's negative mood.

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Resting Brain Studies Shed New Light on Vulnerabilities

November 2011
Individuals with weak signaling in a nicotine-sensitive brain circuit were more vulnerable to nicotine dependence than those with stronger signaling, according to a study conducted while the subjects’ brains were in a resting state. A second resting-state study finds that the same circuit appears to mediate dependence associated with a genetic risk factor for smoking.

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Researchers Develop a New Tracer for Cannabinoid Receptor

March 2008
Describes a new chemical tracer that binds specifically to cannabinoid receptors making it potentially useful in future research to clarify the relationship between the receptors and drug abuse.

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Regular Marijuana Use Is Associated With Differences in Brain Gray Matter and Connectivity

September 2016
A brain imaging study strongly suggests that regular users of marijuana have smaller orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) volumes. Such a deficit could make it more difficult to change counterproductive behaviors, including drug use.

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