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Hypocretin/orexin in addiction: a mediator of stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behaviour
Title of the conference
21st Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Barcelona, SPAIN, AUG 30-SEP 03, 2008
The importance of the lateral hypothalamus in the pursuit of reward has long been recognized. However, the hypothalamic neuronal network involved in the regulation of reward still remains partially unknown. Hypocretins (aka orexins) are neuropeptides synthesized by a few thousand neurons restricted to the lateral hypothalamus and the perifornical area. Compelling evidence indicates that hypocretin neurons receive inputs from sensory and limbic systems and drive hyper-arousal possibly through modulation of stress responses. Major advances have been made in the elucidation of the hypocretin involvement in the regulation of arousal, stress, motivation, and reward seeking, without clearly defining the role of hypocretins in addictionrelated behaviors. We have recently gathered substantial evidence that points to a previously unidentified role for hypocretin-1 in driving relapse for cocaine seeking through activation of brain stress pathways. Meanwhile, several authors published concordant observations rather suggesting a direct activation of the mesolimbic dopamine system. In particular, hypocretin-1 has been shown to be critically involved in cocaine sensitization through the recruitment of NMDA receptors in the ventral tegmental area. Overall, on can conclude from recent findings that activation of hypocretin/orexin neurons plays a critical role in the development of the addiction process, either by contributing to brain sensitization (which is thought to lead to the unmanageable desire for drug intake) or by modulating the brain reward system that, in coordination with brain stress systems, leads to a vulnerable state that may facilitate relapse for drug seeking behavior.
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