Researchers identify gene possibly linked with methamphetamine addiction

December 10, 2015

(Boston)-- A new study sheds light on the significance of a potential genetic risk factor for drug addiction and possibly other neuropsychiatric disorders. Both genetic and environmental factors are known to influence susceptibility to substance use disorders. However, the genetic basis of these disorders is largely unknown.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have for the first time identified a gene that is casually associated with the behavioral stimulant response to the drug methamphetamine. The gene, known as heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein H1 (Hnrnph1) has never been previously implicated in the behavioral effects of psychostimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

These findings could have implications for understanding the genetic basis of methamphetamine addiction in humans and the development of novel therapeutics for prevention and treatment of substance abuse and possibly other psychiatric disorders. The study appears in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Using an experimental model, researchers were able to identify a region of a chromosome that was causally associated with differences in sensitivity to the stimulant properties of methamphetamine. Utilizing genetic approaches such as "fine mapping" and "genome editing," the researchers narrowed the region of the chromosome and targeted each gene to responsible for affecting the behavioral response to the drug.

According to the researchers, Hnrnph1 codes for an RNA binding protein that regulates the processing of hundreds of other genes in the brain. A top priority now is to identify the direct genetic targets of Hnrnph1 within the reward circuitry.

"A better understanding of the brain region and cell type-specific binding targets of Hnrnph1 will tell us more about the function of this gene and possibly identify new therapeutic strategies for minimizing risk and treating psychostimulant addiction - a disorder for which there is currently no FDA-approved drug," explained corresponding author Camron Bryant, PhD, assistant professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics & Psychiatry at BUSM.

The researchers believe this discovery may be potentially relevant to other neuropsychiatric disorders involving dopaminergic dysfunction (ADHD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and have implications for neurodegenerative disorders that affect dopamine circuits, including Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.
-end-
Funding for this study was provided by NIH/NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse): grants R01DA039168, K99/R00DA029635, and R01DA021336. Additional funding was provided by NIH grants R01HG005692 and T32GM008541 as well as Boston University's Transformative Training Program in Addictive Science (TTPAS; Burroughs Wellcome Fund #1011479 and Boston University's Spivack Center for Clinical and Translational Neuroscience.

Boston University Medical Center

Related Methamphetamine Articles from Brightsurf:

Study explores link between methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior
Recreational use of the illicit drug methamphetamine has long been associated with increases in overall impatient and risky behavior.

Impact of methamphetamine use depends on your genes
The research, published in Molecular Psychiatry found that variations in the gene known as BDNF strongly determine the effects of methamphetamine in the brain.

Co-addiction of meth and opioids hinders treatment
A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that methamphetamine use was associated with more than twice the risk for dropping out of treatment for opioid-use disorder.

Mapping international drug use through the world's largest wastewater study
A seven-year project monitoring illicit drug use in 37 countries via wastewater samples shows that cocaine use was skyrocketing in Europe in 2017 and Australia had a serious problem with methamphetamine.

A rat's brain, on and off methamphetamine
Drug addiction is a vicious cycle of reward and withdrawal.

The science Of Breaking Bad: Would you know if meth was cooked inside your house?
Researchers analysed the contamination levels in household items from a home suspected to have previously been used for cooking methamphetamine, to determine whether surface wipe samples can adequately establish contamination and define the health risks.

Spending on illicit drugs in US nears $150 billion annually
Spending on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine fluctuated between $120 billion and $145 billion each year from 2006 to 2016, rivaling what Americans spend each year on alcohol, according to a new study.

Psychostimulants play a major role in fatal strokes among young adults
An estimated 76 million people use psychostimulants, which include illicit drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, as well as prescription stimulants.

New study examines the way estrogen affects methamphetamine addiction
MUSC researchers look at how methamphetamine affects female rats in a new study published January 10 eNeuro.

New study suggests ovarian hormone may make drug withdrawal symptoms worse for women
Researchers found that a form of the estrogen hormone can contribute to drug relapse in females by worsening withdrawal symptoms.

Read More: Methamphetamine News and Methamphetamine 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.