Chronic use of addictive drugs causes behavioral adaptations that represent forms of CNS plasticity. These behaviors include tolerance, dependence, sensitization and craving/addiction. Our laboratory studies the hypothesis that step-wise changes in gene expression, affecting synaptic activity or organization of brain reward pathways, contributes to CNS plasticity occurring with drug abuse. Our studies employ expression profiling with high density oligonucleotide arrays, a massively parallel method for studying gene expression on a near-genomic level. This allows non-biased study of "networks" of gene expression changes. Identification of expression patterns contributing to addiction might generate novel targets for therapeutic agents and enhance our understanding of mechanisms underlying experience-dependent CNS plasticity.

 

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