The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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  • Our People

    The IRP is served by the best and brightest in the scientific community. Find out more about the scientists striving to solve the puzzles of drug addiction and its effects on the human brain.

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  • Our Research

    The research of the Intramural Research Program is supported at the molecular, genetic, cellular, animal, and clinical levels and is conceptually integrated, highly innovative, and focused on major problems in the field of drug addiction research.

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  • Our Organization

    Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Institute on Drug Abuse is dedicated to innovative research on basic mechanisms that underlie drug abuse and dependence, and to develop new methods for the treatment of drug abuse and dependence.

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A figure from this paper.
Reviews to Read

The Brain on Drugs: From Reward to Addiction

Nora D. Volkow and Marisela Morales

Advances in neuroscience identified addiction as a chronic brain disease with strong genetic, neurodevelopmental, and sociocultural components. We here discuss the circuit- and cell-level mechanisms of this condition and its co-option of pathways regulating reward, self-control, and affect. Drugs of abuse exert their initial reinforcing effects by triggering supraphysiologic surges of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens that activate the direct striatal pathway via D1 receptors and inhibit the indirect striato-cortical pathway via D2 receptors....

Read the full review at Cell.

A figure from this paper.
Reviews to Read

Multiplexed neurochemical signaling by neurons of the ventral tegmental area

David J. Barker, David H. Root, Shiliang Zhang, and Marisela Morales

The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is an evolutionarily conserved structure that has roles in reward-seeking, safety-seeking, learning, motivation, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression. The involvement of the VTA in these various behaviors and disorders is paralleled by its diverse signaling mechanisms. Here we review recent advances in our understanding of neuronal diversity in the VTA with a focus on cell phenotypes that participate in 'multiplexed' neurotransmission involving distinct signaling mechanisms....

Read the full review at PubMed.

A figure from this month's paper.
A figure from this month's paper.
Featured paper of the Month!

JULY: Hyperactive somatostatin interneurons contribute to excitotoxicity in neurodegenerative disorders

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Apr;19(4):557-9. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

Wen Zhang, Lifeng Zhang, Bo Liang, David Schroeder, Zhong-wei Zhang, Gregory A Cox, Yun Li, & Da-Ting Lin

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are overlapping neurodegenerative disorders whose pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Using TDP-43(A315T) mice, an ALS and FTD model with marked cortical pathology, we found that hyperactive somatostatin interneurons disinhibited layer 5 pyramidal neurons (L5-PNs) and contributed to their excitotoxicity. Focal ablation of somatostatin interneurons efficiently restored normal excitability of L5-PNs and alleviated neurodegeneration, suggesting a new therapeutic target for ALS and FTD....

More about this paper

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Reviews to Read

Stress-Induced Reinstatement of Drug Seeking: 20 Years of Progress

John R Mantsch, David A Baker, Douglas Funk, Anh D Lę, and Yavin Shaham

In human addicts, drug relapse and craving are often provoked by stress. Since 1995, this clinical scenario has been studied using a rat model of stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking. Here, we first discuss the generality of stress-induced reinstatement to different drugs of abuse, different stressors, and different behavioral procedures. We also discuss neuropharmacological mechanisms, and brain areas and circuits controlling stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking. We conclude by discussing results from translational human laboratory studies and clinical trials that were inspired by results from rat studies on stress-induced reinstatement....

Read the full review at PubMed.

A figure from this paper.
Reviews to Read

Human cell adhesion molecules: annotated functional subtypes and overrepresentation of addiction-associated genes.

Xiaoming Zhong, Jana Drgonova, Chuan-Yun Li, and George R. Uhl

Human cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) are essential for proper development, modulation, and maintenance of interactions between cells and cell-to-cell (and matrix-to-cell) communication about these interactions. Despite the differential functional significance of these roles, there have been surprisingly few systematic studies to enumerate the universe of CAMs and identify specific CAMs in distinct functions. In this paper, we update and review the set of human genes likely to encode CAMs with searches of databases, literature reviews, and annotations....

Read the full review at PubMed.

Dr. Steven Goldberg Dr. Steven Goldberg
Special Issue of Psychopharmacology: “Addiction Research and the Legacy of Steven R. Goldberg”

We would like to draw your attention to a special issue of Psychopharmacology dedicated to scientific contributions of Dr. Steven R. Goldberg, the former chief of Preclinical Pharmacology Section. The issue contains 22 outstanding articles from Steve’s colleagues and collaborators. The issue leads with a commemoration of Steve’s life by Dr. Jack Bergman HERE [PDF 192K].

We would like to highlight several articles authored by NIDA IRP scientists which you can find at the link below.

We hope you find the special issue interesting and worthy of Steve’s long and productive scientific career.

Zuzana Justinova and Yavin Shaham

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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