The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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    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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    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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    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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Dr. Xavier Guitart
Dr. Xavier Guitart
Featured paper of the Month!

MARCH: Functional selectivity of allosteric interactions within G protein-coupled receptor oligomers: the dopamine D1-D3 receptor heterotetramer.

Mol Pharmacol. 2014 Oct;86(4):417-29.

Xavier Guitart, Gemma Navarro, Estefania Moreno, Hideaki Yano, Ning-Sheng Cai, Marta Sánchez-Soto, Sandeep Kumar-Barodia, Yamini T. Naidu, Josefa Mallol, Antoni Cortés, Carme Lluís, Enric I. Canela, Vicent Casadó, Peter J. McCormick, and Sergi Ferré

The dopamine D1 receptor-D3 receptor (D1R-D3R) heteromer is being considered as a potential therapeutic target for neuropsychiatric disorders. Previous studies suggested that this heteromer could be involved in the ability of D3R agonists to potentiate locomotor activation induced by D1R agonists. It has also been postulated that its overexpression plays a role in L-dopa-induced dyskinesia and in drug addiction....

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Dr. Jean Lud Cadet Dr. Jean Lud Cadet.
Reviews to Read

FEBRUARY: Transcriptional and Epigenetic Substrates of Methamphetamine Addiction and Withdrawal: Evidence from a Long-Access Self-Administration Model in the Rat

Jean Lud Cadet, Christie Brannock, Subramaniam Jayanthi, and Irina N. Krasnova

Abstract: Methamphetamine use disorder is a chronic neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by recurrent binge episodes, intervals of abstinence, and relapses to drug use. Humans addicted to methamphetamine experience various degrees of cognitive deficits and other neurological abnormalities that complicate their activities of daily living and their participation in treatment programs. Importantly, models of methamphetamine addiction in rodents have shown that animals will readily learn to give themselves methamphetamine. Rats also accelerate their intake over time. Microarray studies have also shown that methamphetamine taking is associated with major transcriptional changes in the striatum measured within a short or longer time after cessation of drug taking....

Read the full review at PubMed.

A figure from this paper. A figure from this paper.
Hot off the Press!

Dopaminergic and glutamatergic microdomains in a subset of rodent mesoaccumbens axons

Nature Neuroscience Published online 09 February 2015

Shiliang Zhang, Jia Qi, Xueping Li, Hui-Ling Wang, Jonathan P Britt, Alexander F Hoffman, Antonello Bonci, Carl R Lupica & Marisela Morales

Mesoaccumbens fibers are thought to co-release dopamine and glutamate. However, the mechanism is unclear, and co-release by mesoaccumbens fibers has not been documented. Using electron microcopy, we found that some mesoaccumbens fibers have vesicular transporters for dopamine (VMAT2) in axon segments that are continuous with axon terminals that lack VMAT2, but contain vesicular glutamate transporters type 2 (VGluT2). In vivo overexpression of VMAT2 did not change the segregation of the two vesicular types, suggesting the existence of highly regulated mechanisms for maintaining this segregation....

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Dr. Steven Goldberg Dr. Steven Goldberg
Scientific Memorial Symposium for Steven Goldberg

Organizers: Zuzana Justinová, Yavin Shaham, and Sergi Ferré

Date: March 11, 2015

Location: BRC Atrium (NIDA, 251 Bayview Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21224)

No registration is required to attend. Please bring ID. There is no free parking at BRC - closest parking is on Mid-Campus Visitor Parking Lot. Cafeteria is located in the Atrium.

Contact: Zuzana Justinova (

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Journal cover for month's paper.
Journal cover for month's paper.
Featured paper of the Month!

FEBRUARY: Synthesis and immunological effects of heroin vaccines

Org Biomol Chem. 2014 Oct 7;12(37):7211-32.

Li F, Cheng K, Antoline JF, Iyer MR, Matyas GR, Torres OB, Jalah R, Beck Z, Alving CR, Parrish DA, Deschamps JR, Jacobson AE, Rice KC

Three haptens have been synthesized with linkers for attachment to carrier macromolecules at either the piperidino-nitrogen or via an introduced 3-amino group. Two of the haptens, with a 2-oxopropyl functionality at either C6, or at both the C3 and C6 positions on the 4,5-epoxymorphinan framework, as well as the third hapten (DiAmHap) with diamido moieties at both the C3 and C6 positions, should be much more stable in solution, or in vivo in a vaccine, than a hapten with an ester in one of those positions, as found in many heroin-based haptens.....

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Dr. Jean Lud Cadet Dr. Jean Lud Cadet.
Reviews to Read

JANUARY: The primacy of cognition in the manifestations of substance use disorders

Jean Lud Cadet and Veronica Bisagno

Drug addiction is a serious public health problem that consists of a compulsive drive to take drugs despite repeated severe adverse consequences. Factors that influence the development and maintenance of addiction include access to drugs, social environment, genetic predisposition, and psychiatric comorbidities. Even in the absence of specific psychiatric diagnoses, certain psychological vulnerabilities may serve as substrates compounding the initiation of drug use and the development of substance use disorders. For example, individual who are sensation-seekers, impulsive, or behavioral disinhibited appear more prone to develop addiction to both licit and illicit substances....

Read the full review at Frontiers in Neurology.

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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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