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VTA GABAergic Plasticity: An Inhibitory Synaptic Model of Drug Addiction

  • Fereshteh S. Nugent
Chapter

Abstract

There is now compelling evidence suggesting that addiction is a pathological form of habit-based learning of the brain that involves drug-induced synaptic plasticity in addiction-related areas of the brain including the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Fortunately, over the last decade, tremendous progress has been made in the identification of neuroplastic changes in the relevant neural circuits involved in the development and maintenance of addiction using “synaptic plasticity models”. The current model of addiction supports the idea that the VTA is the major starting point of addiction-associated plasticity of the brain in response to drugs of abuse. While synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses is well-studied and is correlated with addiction, the role of synaptic plasticity at inhibitory synapses is less well understood. However now there is a growing interest in characterizing and uncovering the underlying mechanisms of these forms of inhibitory plasticity and their link to different aspects of brain function, including the development of addictive behaviors. In this chapter, I will provide a brief synopsis of some forms of synaptic plasticity associated with addiction found at inhibitory GABAergic synapses in the VTA.

Keywords

Synaptic Plasticity Ventral Tegmental Area Guanylate Cyclase Dorsal Striatum Gaba Release 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private opinions of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or the Department of Defense or the Government of the United States. This work was supported by an R0 75OU grant from the Uniformed Services University (USUHS), and I also acknowledge past support (5F32 DA021973-02) from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Thanks to Drs. Brian Cox, David Lovinger, Julie Kauer, and Suzanne Bausch for their helpful and constructive discussions for the present chapter.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniformed Services University of the Health SciencesBethesdaUSA

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