Title

Gene Expression Profiling in the Brains of Human Cocaine Abusers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2005

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Chronic cocaine abuse induces long-term neurochemical, structural and behavioural changes thought to result from altered gene expression within the nucleus accumbens and other brain regions playing a critical role in addiction. Recent methodological advances now allow the profiling of gene expression in human postmortem brain. In this article, we review studies in which we have used Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays to identify transcripts that are differentially expressed in the nucleus accumbens of cocaine abusers in comparison to well-matched control subjects. Of the approximately 39 000 gene transcripts interrogated, the expression of only a fraction of 1% is significantly modified in cocaine abusers. Found within this list are equivalent incidences of increased and decreased transcript abundance, including known gene transcripts clustered into several functional categories. A striking exception is a group of myelin-related genes, consisting of multiple transcripts representing myelin basic protein (MBP), proteolipid protein (PLP) and myelin-associated oligodendrocyte basic protein (MOBP), which as a group are substantially decreased in cocaine abusers compared to controls. These data, suggesting a possible dysregulation of myelin in cocaine abusers, are discussed in the context of myelin-related changes in other human brain disorders. Finally, the effects of cocaine abuse on the profile of gene expression in some other brain regions critical for addiction (the prefrontal cortex and ventral midbrain) are briefly reviewed.

Publication Title

Addiction Biology

DOI

10.1080/13556210412331308921