The addicted synapse: Mechanisms of synaptic and structural plasticity in nucleus accumbens

Scott J. Russo, David M. Dietz, Dani Dumitriu, John Morrison, Robert C. Malenka, Eric J. Nestler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

407 Scopus citations

Abstract

Addictive drugs cause persistent restructuring of several neuronal cell types in the limbic regions of brain thought to be responsible for long-term behavioral plasticity driving addiction. Although these structural changes are well documented in nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons, little is known regarding the underlying molecular mechanisms. Additionally, it remains unclear whether structural plasticity and its synaptic concomitants drive addictive behaviors or whether they reflect homeostatic compensations to the drug not related to addiction per se. Here, we discuss recent paradoxical data, which either support or oppose the hypothesis that drug-induced changes in dendritic spines drive addictive behavior. We define areas where future investigation can provide a more detailed picture of drug-induced synaptic reorganization, including ultrastructural, electrophysiological and behavioral studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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