UTHSC researchers awarded $1.7 million for opioid addiction studies

June 05, 2020

Memphis, Tenn. (June 5, 2020) - A team of University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) researchers in the College of Medicine recently received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) award to study how genetic differences may explain why some people are more susceptible to opioid addiction than others.

Hao Chen, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Addiction Science, and Toxicology, and Megan Mulligan, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Genetics, Genomics, and Informatics, received $1.7 million for their project titled, "Reduced complexity mapping of oxycodone self-administration and stress responsiveness in rats."

"Prescription opioid use and abuse results in millions of people addicted to opioids, and we know that genetic and environmental factors, such as stress, can interact to increase addiction vulnerability," Dr. Mulligan explained. "Unfortunately, we do not have a strong or complete understanding of how genetic differences contribute to risk of opioid addiction or contribute to stress-induced vulnerability."

To identify genetic differences in stress response, oxycodone consumption, and stress-induced drug seeking, the team will compare voluntary oxycodone intake between two strains of rats that differ in their vulnerability to stress.

"What makes this model unique is that the two strains demonstrate large differences in addiction-relevant behavior, and they are genetically similar," Dr. Mulligan said. "This makes it easier to identify the gene variants that cause differences in stress response, opioid intake, and stress-induced opioid intake."

"We can swap genetic material between the strains and study if this replacement causes changes in drug intake and seeking behavior. We can even do this in specific types of cells in a certain part of the brain," said Dr. Chen. Dr. Mulligan added, "The findings from our study have great potential to translate to the human condition of opioid addiction."
-end-
As Tennessee's only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health through education, research, clinical care, and public service, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region. The main campus in Memphis includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains medicine, pharmacy, and/or health professions students, as well as medical residents and fellows, at major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information, visit .

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.