Gene Expression Profile of the Nucleus Accumbens of Human Cocaine Users: Evidence for Dysregulation of Myelin

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Chronic cocaine abuse induces long-term neural adaptations as a consequence of alterations in gene expression. This study was undertaken to identify those transcripts differentially regulated in the nucleus accumbens of human cocaine abusers. Affymetrix microarrays were used to measure transcript abundance in 10 cocaine abusers and 10 control subjects matched for age, race, sex, and brain pH. As expected, gene expression of cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) was increased in the nucleus accumbens of cocaine abusers. The most robust and consistent finding, however, was a decrease in the expression of a number of myelin-related genes, including myelin basic protein (MBP), proteolipid protein (PLP), and myelin-associated oligodendrocyte basic protein (MOBP). The differential expression seen by microarray for CART as well as MBP, MOBP, and PLP was verified by RT–PCR. In addition, immunohistochemical experiments revealed a decrease in the number of MBP-immunoreactive oligodendrocytes present in the nucleus accumbens and surrounding white matter of cocaine abusers. These findings suggest a dysregulation of myelin in human cocaine abusers.



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Journal of Neurochemistry