The Role of Epigenetics in Addiction: Clinical Overview and Recent Updates

  • Antoine Beayno
  • Samer El Hayek
  • Paul Noufi
  • Yara Tarabay
  • Wael ShamseddeenEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2011)


Addiction is an international public health problem. It is a polygenic disorder best understood by accounting for the interplay between genetic and environmental factors. A recent way of perceiving this interaction is through epigenetics, which help grasp the neurobiological changes that occur in addiction and explain its relapsing-remitting nature. It is now known that every cell has a different way of expressing its phenotype, despite a universal DNA sequence. This is particularly true in the central nervous system where environmental factors influence this expression. Three major epigenetic processes have been found to participate in the perpetuation of addiction by changing the state of the chromatin and the degree of gene transcription: histone acetylation and methylation, DNA methylation, and noncoding RNAs. In the animal model literature, substantial evidence exists about the role of these epigenetic changes in the different phases of substance use disorders. This book chapter is a non-systematic literature review of the recent publications tackling the topic of epigenetics in addiction. Even though this evidence remains scarce and relatively poorly systematized, it is a promising foundation for future research of molecules that target specific brain regions and their functions to address core behavioral changes seen in addiction.

Key words

Addiction Animal model Epigenetics Neurocircuitry Histones DNA methylation Noncoding RNAs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoine Beayno
    • 1
  • Samer El Hayek
    • 1
  • Paul Noufi
    • 1
  • Yara Tarabay
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wael Shamseddeen
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Faculty of PedagogyLebanese UniversityNew RawdaLebanon
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural and Applied SciencesNotre Dame UniversityLouaizeLebanon
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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