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1.  Hypersexuality Addiction and Withdrawal: Phenomenology, Neurogenetics and Epigenetics 
Cureus  null;7(10):e348.
Hypersexuality has been defined as abnormally increased sexual activity. Epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that this non-paraphilic condition consists of "excessive" sexual behaviors and disorders accompanied by personal distress and social and medical morbidity. It is a very controversial and political topic in terms of how best to categorize it as similar or not similar to addictive behaviors including substance abuse. Hypersexual disorder is conceptualized as a non-paraphilic sexual desire disorder with impulsivity. Pathophysiological perspectives include dysregulation of sexual arousal and desire, sexual impulsivity, and sexual compulsivity. The nucleus accumbens, situated within the ventral striatum, mediates the reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and food as well as music. Indeed, it is believed that this structure mandates behaviors elicited by incentive stimuli. These behaviors include natural rewards like feeding, drinking, sexual behavior, and exploratory locomotion. An essential rule of positive reinforcement is that motor responses will increase in magnitude and vigor if followed by a rewarding event. Here, we are hypothesizing that there is a common mechanism of action (MOA) for the powerful effects drugs, music, food, and sex have on human motivation. The human drive for the three necessary motivational behaviors "hunger, thirst, and sex" may all have common molecular genetic antecedents that, if impaired, lead to aberrant behaviors. We hypothesize that based on a plethora of scientific support hypersexual activity is indeed like drugs, food, and music that activate brain mesolimbic reward circuitry. Moreover, dopaminergic gene and possibly other candidate neurotransmitter-related gene polymorphisms affect both hedonic and anhedonic behavioral outcomes. There is little known about both the genetics and epigenetics of hypersexuality in the current literature. However, we anticipate that future studies based on assessments with clinical instruments combined with genotyping of sex addicts will provide evidence for specific clustering of sexual typologies with polymorphic associations. There have been some studies using electrophysiological techniques that do not support the view that hypersexuality is indeed similar to substance abuse and other behavioral addictions. The authors are also encouraging both clinical and academic scientists to embark on research using neuroimaging tools to examine natural dopaminergic agonistic agents targeting specific gene polymorphisms to "normalize" hypersexual behavior.
doi:10.7759/cureus.348
PMCID: PMC4627834  PMID: 26623203
neurogenetics; epigenetics; reward deficiency syndrome; compulsivity; hypersexuality disorder
4.  Enhancing Brain Pregnenolone May Protect Cannabis Intoxication but Should Not Be Considered as an Anti-addiction Therapeutic: Hypothesizing Dopaminergic Blockade and Promoting Anti-Reward 
Many US states now embrace the medical and recreational use of Cannabis. Changes in the laws have heightened interest and encouraged research into both cannabinoid products and the potential harms of Cannabis use, addiction, and intoxication. Some research into those harms will be reviewed here and misgivings about the use of Pregnenolone, to treat cannabis addiction and intoxication explained. Pregnenolone considered the inactive precursor of all steroid hormones, has recently been shown to protect the brain from Cannabis intoxication. The major active ingredient of Cannabis sativa (marijuana), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) enhances Pregnenolone synthesis in the brain via stimulation of the type-1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. This steroid has been shown to inhibit the activity of the CB1 receptor thereby reducing many of the effects of THC. While this mechanism seems correct, in our opinion, Vallee et al., incorrectly suggest that blocking CB1 receptors could open unforeseen approaches to the treatment of cannabis intoxication and addiction. In this hypothesis, we caution the scientific community that, other CB1 receptor blockers, such as, Rimonabant (SR141718) have been pulled off the market in Europe. In addition, CB1 receptor blockers were rejected by the FDA due to mood changes including suicide ideation. Blocking CB1 receptors would result in reduced neuronal release of Dopamine by disinhibition of GABA signaling. Long-term blockade of cannabinoid receptors could occur with raising Pregnenolone brain levels, may induce a hypodopaminergic state, and lead to aberrant substance and non-substance (behavioral) addictions.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-005
PMCID: PMC4545660  PMID: 26306328
Cannabis; CB1 type receptors; Pregnenolone; Dopamine; Reward deficiency syndrome (RDS)
5.  Reward Deficiency Syndrome: Attentional/Arousal Subtypes, Limitations of Current Diagnostic Nosology, and Future Research 
We theorise that in some cases Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) predisposes to narcolepsy and hypersomnia, and that there may be a shared pathophysiology with various addictions [Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)]. Reticence to acknowledge such connections may be due to a narrow nosological framework. Additionally, we theorise that the development of narcolepsy on a baseline of ADHD/RDS leads to an additional assault on the dopaminergic reward system in such individuals. In this study, we propose to test these hypotheses by using a combination of broad genetic screening, and neuroimaging with and without pharmacological intervention, in those with pure ADHD, pure narcolepsy, and the combined ADHD-narcolepsy phenotype. Results of this proposed study may reveal a common pathophysiology of ADHD, narcolepsy and RDS, and perhaps an additional compromise to the reward system in those with combined ADHD-narcolepsy. If the evidence supports the hypothesis that indeed there is a shared pathophysiology for narcolepsy with RDS and thus its subtype ADHD, early intervention/preventative treatment amongst those with ADHD may be beneficial with the putative dopaminergic compound KB220Z™.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-002
PMCID: PMC4545661  PMID: 26306327
ADHD; Narcolepsy; Reward deficiency syndrome; Genetics; fcMRI
6.  The Molecular Neurobiology of Twelve Steps Program & Fellowship: Connecting the Dots for Recovery 
There are some who suggest that alcoholism and drug abuse are not diseases at all and that they are not consequences of a brain disorder as espoused recently by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Some would argue that addicts can quit on their own and moderate their alcohol and drug intake. When they present to a treatment program or enter the 12 Step Program & Fellowship, many addicts finally achieve complete abstinence. However, when controlled drinking fails, there may be successful alternatives that fit particular groups of individuals. In this expert opinion, we attempt to identify personal differences in recovery, by clarifying the molecular neurobiological basis of each step of the 12 Step Program. We explore the impact that the molecular neurobiological basis of the 12 steps can have on Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) despite addiction risk gene polymorphisms. This exploration has already been accomplished in part by Blum and others in a 2013 Springer Neuroscience Brief. The purpose of this expert opinion is to briefly, outline the molecular neurobiological and genetic links, especially as they relate to the role of epigenetic changes that are possible in individuals who regularly attend AA meetings. It begs the question as to whether “12 steps programs and fellowship” does induce neuroplasticity and continued dopamine D2 receptor proliferation despite carrying hypodopaminergic type polymorphisms such as DRD2 A1 allele. “Like-minded” doctors of ASAM are cognizant that patients in treatment without the “psycho-social-spiritual trio,” may not be obtaining the important benefits afforded by adopting 12-step doctrines. Are we better off with coupling medical assisted treatment (MAT) that favors combining dopamine agonist modalities (DAM) as possible histone-deacetylase activators with the 12 steps followed by a program that embraces either one or the other? While there are many unanswered questions, at least we have reached a time when “science meets recovery,” and in doing so, can further redeem joy in recovery.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-008
PMCID: PMC4545669  PMID: 26306329
12 steps; Fellowship; Spirituality; Dopamine agonistic modalities (DAM); God; Genetic testing; Neuroepigenetics; Reward deficiency syndrome (RDS)
7.  Evoked Potentials and Memory/Cognition Tests Validate Brain Atrophy as Measured by 3T MRI (NeuroQuant) in Cognitively Impaired Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0133609.
To our knowledge, this is the largest study evaluating relationships between 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and P300 and memory/cognitive tests in the literature. The 3T MRI using NeuroQuant has an increased resolution 15 times that of 1.5T MRI. Utilizing NeuroQuant 3T MRI as a diagnostic tool in primary care, subjects (N=169; 19–90 years) displayed increased areas of anatomical atrophy: 34.62% hippocampal atrophy (N=54), 57.14% central atrophy (N=88), and 44.52% temporal atrophy (N=69). A majority of these patients exhibited overlap in measured areas of atrophy and were cognitively impaired. These results positively correlated with decreased P300 values and WMS-III (WMS-III) scores differentially across various brain loci. Delayed latency (p=0.0740) was marginally associated with temporal atrophy; reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) in frontal lobes correlated with aging, delayed P300 latency, and decreased visual and working memory (p=0.0115). Aging and delayed P300 latency correlated with lower FA. The correlation between working memory and reduced FA in frontal lobes is marginally significant (p=0.0787). In the centrum semiovale (CS), reduced FA correlated with visual memory (p=0.0622). Lower demyelination correlated with higher P300 amplitude (p=0.0002). Compared to males, females have higher demyelination (p=0.0064). Along these lines, the higher the P300 amplitude, the lower the bilateral atrophy (p=0.0165). Hippocampal atrophy correlated with increased auditory memory and gender, especially in males (p=0.0087). In considering temporal lobe atrophy correlations: delayed P300 latency and high temporal atrophy (p=0.0740); high auditory memory and low temporal atrophy (p=0.0417); and high working memory and low temporal atrophy (p=0.0166). Central atrophy correlated with aging and immediate memory (p=0.0294): the higher the immediate memory, the lower the central atrophy. Generally, the validation of brain atrophy by P300 and WMS-III could lead to cost-effective methods utilizable in primary care medicine following further confirmation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133609
PMCID: PMC4526533  PMID: 26244349
8.  Hypersexuality Addiction and Withdrawal: Phenomenology, Neurogenetics and Epigenetics 
Cureus  null;7(7):e290.
Hypersexuality is now part of the DSM-V and has been defined as abnormally increased sexual activity. Epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that this non-paraphilic condition consists of “excessive” sexual behaviors and disorders accompanied by personal distress and social and medical morbidity. Hypersexual disorder is conceptualized as primarily a non-paraphilic sexual desire disorder with impulsivity. Pathophysiological perspectives include dysregulation of sexual arousal and desire, sexual impulsivity, sexual addiction, and sexual compulsivity. The nucleus accumbens, situated within the ventral striatum, mediates the reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and food as well as music. Indeed, it is believed that this structure mandates behaviors elicited by incentive stimuli. These behaviors include natural rewards like feeding, drinking, sexual behavior, and exploratory locomotion. An essential rule of positive reinforcement is that motor responses will increase in magnitude and vigor if followed by a rewarding event. Here, we are hypothesizing that there is a common mechanism of action (MOA) for the powerful effects drugs, music, food, and sex have on human motivation. The human drive for the three necessary motivational behaviors “hunger, thirst, and sex” may all have common molecular genetic antecedents that, if impaired, lead to aberrant behaviors. We hypothesize that based on a plethora of scientific support hypersexual activity is indeed like drugs, food, and music that activate brain mesolimbic reward circuitry. Moreover, dopaminergic gene and possibly other candidate neurotransmitter-related gene polymorphisms affect both hedonic and anhedonic behavioral outcomes. There is little known about both the genetics and epigenetics of hypersexuality in the current literature. However, we anticipate that future studies based on assessments with clinical instruments combined with genotyping of sex addicts will provide evidence for specific clustering of sexual typologies with polymorphic associations. The authors are also encouraging both clinical and academic scientists to embark on research using neuroimaging tools to examine natural dopaminergic agonistic agents targeting specific gene polymorphisms to “normalize” hyper- or hyposexual response.
doi:10.7759/cureus.290
PMCID: PMC4524748  PMID: 26251766
neurogenetics; epigenetics; reward deficiency syndrome; compulsivity; hypersexuality disorder
9.  Using the Neuroadaptagen KB200z™ to Ameliorate Terrifying, Lucid Nightmares in RDS Patients: the Role of Enhanced, Brain-Reward, Functional Connectivity and Dopaminergic Homeostasis 
Background
Lucid Dreams are a form of dream life, during which the dreamer may be aware that he/she is dreaming, can stop/re-start the dreams, depending on the pleasantness or unpleasant nature of the dream, and experiences the dream as if he/she were fully awake. Depending on their content, they may be pleasant, un-pleasant or terrifying, at least in the context of patients, who also exhibit characteristics of Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Case Series
We present eight clinical cases, with known substance abuse, childhood abuse and diagnosed PTSD/RDS. The administration of a putative dopamine agonist, KB200Z™, was associated with the elimination of unpleasant and/or terrifying, lucid dreams in 87.5% of the cases presented, whereas one very heavy cocaine abuser showed a minimal response. These results required the continuous use of this nutraceutical. The lucid dreams themselves were distinguishable from typical, PTSD nightmares insofar as their content did not appear to reflect a symbolic rendition of an originally-experienced, historical trauma. Each of the cases was diagnosed with a form of RDS, i.e., ADHD, ADD, and/or Tourette’s syndrome. They all also suffered from some form of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric diagnoses as well.
Conclusion
The reduction or elimination of terrifying Lucid Dreams seemed to be dependent on KB220Z, whereby voluntary stopping of the agent results in reinstatement of the terrifying non-pleasant nature of the dreams. Following more required research on a much larger population we anticipate confirmation of these seemingly interesting observations. If these results in a small number of patients are indeed confirmed we may have found a frontline solution to a very perplexing and complicated symptom known as lucid dreams.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-006
PMCID: PMC4459746  PMID: 26065033
Putative natural dopamine agonist; KB200Z; Functional brain connectivity; Lucid dreams; Nightmares; PTSD
11.  NIDA-Drug Addiction Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS) Relapse as a Function of Spirituality/Religiosity 
Background
The connection between religion/spirituality and deviance, like substance abuse, was first made by Durkheim who defined socially expected behaviors as norms. He explained that deviance is due in large part to their absence (called anomie), and concluded that spirituality lowers deviance by preserving norms and social bonds. Impairments in brain reward circuitry, as observed in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS), may also result in deviance and as such we wondered if stronger belief in spirituality practice and religious belief could lower relapse from drugs of abuse.
Methods
The NIDA Drug Addiction Treatment Outcome Study data set was used to examine post hoc relapse rates among 2,947 clients who were interviewed at 12 months after intake broken down by five spirituality measures.
Results
Our main findings strongly indicate, that those with low spirituality have higher relapse rates and those with high spirituality have higher remission rates with crack use being the sole exception. We found significant differences in terms of cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and marijuana relapse as a function of strength of religious beliefs (x2 = 15.18, p = 0.028; logistic regression = 10.65, p = 0.006); frequency of attending religious services (x2 = 40.78, p < 0.0005; logistic regression = 30.45, p < 0.0005); frequency of reading religious books (x2 = 27.190, p < 0.0005; logistic regression = 17.31, p < 0.0005); frequency of watching religious programs (x2 = 19.02, p = 0.002; logistic regression = ns); and frequency of meditation/prayer (x2 = 11.33, p = 0.045; logistic regression = 9.650, p = 0.002). Across the five measures of spirituality, the spiritual participants reported between 7% and 21% less alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana use than the non-spiritual subjects. However, the crack users who reported that religion was not important reported significantly less crack use than the spiritual participants. The strongest association between remission and spirituality involves attending religious services weekly, the one marker of the five that involves the highest social interaction/social bonding consistent with Durkheim’s social bond theory.
Conclusions
Stronger spiritual/religious beliefs and practices are directly associated with remission from abused drugs except crack. Much like the value of having a sponsor, for clients who abuse drugs, regular spiritual practice, particularly weekly attendance at the religious services of their choice is associated with significantly higher remission. These results demonstrate the clinically significant role of spirituality and the social bonds it creates in drug treatment programs.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-007
PMCID: PMC4455957  PMID: 26052556
Relapse; Neurogentics; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS); Spirituality; Genospirituality; Anomie; Social Bonds; Religion
12.  Molecular Genetic Testing in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): Facts and Fiction 
Background
The Brain Reward Cascade (BRC) is an interaction of neurotransmitters and their respective genes to control the amount of dopamine released within the brain. Any variations within this pathway, whether genetic or environmental (epigenetic), may result in addictive behaviors or RDS, which was coined to define addictive behaviors and their genetic components.
Methods
To carry out this review we searched a number of important databases including: Filtered: Cochrane Systematic reviews; DARE; Pubmed Central Clinical Quaries; National Guideline Clearinghouse and unfiltered resources: PsychINFO; ACP PIER; PsychSage; Pubmed/Medline. The major search terms included: dopamine agonist therapy for Addiction; dopamine agonist therapy for Reward dependence; dopamine antagonistic therapy for addiction; dopamine antagonistic therapy for reward dependence and neurogenetics of RDS.
Results
While there are many studies claiming a genetic association with RDS behavior, not all are scientifically accurate.
Conclusion
Albeit our bias, this Clinical Pearl discusses the facts and fictions behind molecular genetic testing in RDS and the significance behind the development of the Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARSPREDX™), the first test to accurately predict one’s genetic risk for RDS.
doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-009
PMCID: PMC4455960  PMID: 26052557
Reward Deficiency Syndrome; Brain Reward Cascade; DRD2; Gene variations; Genetic Addiction Risk Score
13.  Putative Dopamine Agonist (KB220Z) Attenuates Lucid Nightmares in PTSD Patients: Role of Enhanced Brain Reward Functional Connectivity and Homeostasis Redeeming Joy 
Journal of Behavioral Addictions  null;4(2):106-115.
Background
Lucid dreams are frequently pleasant and training techniques have been developed to teach dreamers to induce them. In addition, the induction of lucid dreams has also been used as a way to ameliorate nightmares. On the other hand, lucid dreams may be associated with psychiatric conditions, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Reward Deficiency Syndrome-associated diagnoses. In the latter conditions, lucid dreams can assume an unpleasant and frequently terrifying character.
Case Presentations
We present two cases of dramatic alleviation of terrifying lucid dreams in patients with PTSD. In the first case study, a 51-year-old, obese woman, diagnosed with PTSD and depression, had attempted suicide and experienced terrifying lucid nightmares linked to sexual/physical abuse from early childhood by family members including her alcoholic father. Her vivid “bad dreams” remained refractory in spite of 6 months of treatment with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and standard pharmaceutical agents which included prazosin, clonidie and Adderall. The second 39-year-old PTSD woman patient had also suffered from lucid nightmares.
Results
The medication visit notes reveal changes in the frequency, intensity and nature of these dreams after the complex putative dopamine agonist KB220Z was added to the first patient’s regimen. The patient reported her first experience of an extended period of happy dreams. The second PTSD patient, who had suffered from lucid nightmares, was administered KB220Z to attenuate methadone withdrawal symptoms and incidentally reported dreams full of happiness and laughter.
Conclusions
These cases are discussed with reference to the known effects of KB220Z including enhanced dopamine homeostasis and functional connectivity of brain reward circuitry in rodents and humans. Their understanding awaits intensive investigation involving large-population, double-blinded studies.
doi:10.1556/2006.4.2015.008
PMCID: PMC4500891  PMID: 26132915
putative complex dopamine agonist; KB220Z; parasomnia; functional brain connectivity; lucid nightmares; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
14.  Hypothesizing Dopaminergic Genetic Antecedents in Schizophrenia and Substance Seeking Behavior 
Medical hypotheses  2014;82(5):606-614.
The dopamine system has been implicated in both substance use disorder (SUD) and schizophrenia. A recent meta- analysis suggests that A1 allele of the DRD2 gene imposes genetic risk for SUD, especially alcoholism and has been implicated in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS). We hypothesize that dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene Taq1 A2 allele is associated with a subtype of non- SUD schizophrenics and as such may act as a putative protective agent against the development of addiction to alcohol or other drugs of abuse. Schizophrenics with SUD may be carriers of the DRD2 Taq1 A1 allele, and/or other RDS reward polymorphisms and have hypodopaminergic reward function. One plausible mechanism for alcohol seeking in schizophrenics with SUD, based on previous research, may be a deficiency of gamma type endorphins that has been linked to schizophrenic type psychosis.. We also propose that alcohol seeking behavior in schizophrenics, may serve as a physiological self-healing process linked to the increased function of the gamma endorphins, thereby reducing abnormal dopaminergic activity at the nucleus accumbens (NAc). These hypotheses warrant further investigation and cautious interpretation. We, therefore, encourage research involving neuroimaging, genome wide association studies (GWAS), and epigenetic investigation into the relationship between neurogenetics and systems biology to unravel the role of dopamine in psychiatric illness and SUD.
doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2014.02.019
PMCID: PMC4039414  PMID: 24636783
schizophrenia; substance related disorders; dopaminergic; reward deficiency syndrome (RDS); gamma –endorphins
15.  Clinically Combating Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) with Dopamine Agonist Therapy as a Paradigm Shift: Dopamine for Dinner? 
Molecular Neurobiology  2015;52(3):1862-1869.
Everyday, there are several millions of people that are increasingly unable to combat their frustrating and even fatal romance with getting high and/or experiencing “normal” feelings of well-being. In the USA, the FDA has approved pharmaceuticals for drug and alcohol abuse: tobacco and nicotine replacement therapy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) remarkably continue to provide an increasing understanding of the intricate functions of brain reward circuitry through sophisticated neuroimaging and molecular genetic applied technology. Similar work is intensely investigated on a worldwide basis with enhanced clarity and increased interaction between not only individual scientists but across many disciplines. However, while it is universally agreed that dopamine is a major neurotransmitter in terms of reward dependence, there remains controversy regarding how to modulate its role clinically to treat and prevent relapse for both substance and non-substance-related addictive behaviors. While the existing FDA-approved medications promote blocking dopamine, we argue that a more prudent paradigm shift should be biphasic—short-term blockade and long-term upregulation, enhancing functional connectivity of brain reward circuits.
doi:10.1007/s12035-015-9110-9
PMCID: PMC4586005  PMID: 25750061
Dopamine; Reward deficiency syndrome (RDS); Agonistic therapy; Dopamine societies; Genetics and epigenetics
16.  Connectivity Study of the Neuromechanism of Acute Acupuncture Needling during fMRI in “Overweight” Subjects 
This functional connectivity study depicts how acupoints ST 36 and SP 9 and their sham acupoints acutely act on blood glucose (GLU), core body temperature (CBT), hunger, and sensations pertaining to needling (De-qi) via the limbic system and dopamine (DA) to affect various brain areas in fasting, adult, and “overweight” Chinese males using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Functional connectivity (FC) analysis utilized the amygdala (AMY) and hypothalamus (HYP) as regions of interest (ROIs) in the discrete cosine transform and seed correlation analysis methods. There was a significant difference in the spatial patterns of the distinct brain regions between groups. Correlation results showed that increased HYP-hippocampus FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in CBT; increased HYP-putamen-insula FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in GLU; and increased HYP-anterior cingulate cortex FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in HUNGER suggesting that increased DA modulation during ACU was probably associated with increased poststimulation limbic system and spinothalamic tract connectivity. Decreased HYP-thalamus FC after ACU was negatively correlated or anticorrelated with ACU-induced change in HUNGER suggesting that increased DA modulation during ACU was possibly associated with decreased poststimulation limbic system and spinothalamic tract connectivity. No correlation was found for min SHAM. This was an important study in addressing acute acupuncture effects and neural pathways involving physiology and appetite regulation in overweight individuals.
doi:10.1155/2015/384389
PMCID: PMC4363637  PMID: 25821486
17.  Buprenorphine Response as a Function of Neurogenetic Polymorphic Antecedents: Can Dopamine Genes Affect Clinical Outcomes in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)? 
There is a plethora of research indicating the successful treatment of opioid dependence with either buprenorphine alone or in combination with naloxone (Suboxone®). However, we encourage caution in long-term maintenance with these drugs, albeit, lack of any other FDA approved opioid maintenance compound to date. Our concern has been supported by severe withdrawal (even with tapering of the dosage of for example Suboxone® which is 40 times more potent than morphine) from low dose of buprenorphine (alone or with naloxone). In addition our findings of a long-term flat affect in chronic Suboxone® patients amongst other unwanted side effects including diversion and suicide attempts provides impetus to reconsider long-term utilization. However, it seems prudent to embrace genetic testing to reveal reward circuitry gene polymorphisms especially those related to dopaminergic pathways as well as opioid receptor(s) as a way of improving treatment outcomes. Understanding the interaction of reward circuitry involvement in buprenorphine effects and respective genotypes provide a novel framework to augment a patient's clinical experience and benefits during opioid replacement therapy.
doi:10.4172/2155-6105.1000185
PMCID: PMC4318568  PMID: 25664200
Buprenorphine; Naloxone; Suboxone; Dopamine & Opioid polymorphic genes; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)
18.  Dopaminergic Neurogenetics of Sleep Disorders in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) 
It is well-known that sleep has a vital function especially as it relates to prevention of substance-related disorders as discussed in the DSM-V. We are cognizant that certain dopaminergic gene polymorphisms have been associated with various sleep disorders. The importance of “normal dopamine homeostasis” is tantamount for quality of life especially for the recovering addict. Since it is now know that sleep per se has been linked with metabolic clearance of neurotoxins in the brain, it is parsonomiuos to encourage continued research in sleep science, which should ultimately result in attenuation of sleep deprivation especially associated with substance related disorders.
doi:10.4172/2167-0277.1000e126
PMCID: PMC4314958  PMID: 25657892
sleep; dopaminergic system; neurogenetics; metabolic clearance of neurotoxins; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)
19.  Obesity: Pathophysiology and Intervention 
Nutrients  2014;6(11):5153-5183.
Obesity presents a major health hazard of the 21st century. It promotes co-morbid diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Excessive energy intake, physical inactivity, and genetic susceptibility are main causal factors for obesity, while gene mutations, endocrine disorders, medication, or psychiatric illnesses may be underlying causes in some cases. The development and maintenance of obesity may involve central pathophysiological mechanisms such as impaired brain circuit regulation and neuroendocrine hormone dysfunction. Dieting and physical exercise offer the mainstays of obesity treatment, and anti-obesity drugs may be taken in conjunction to reduce appetite or fat absorption. Bariatric surgeries may be performed in overtly obese patients to lessen stomach volume and nutrient absorption, and induce faster satiety. This review provides a summary of literature on the pathophysiological studies of obesity and discusses relevant therapeutic strategies for managing obesity.
doi:10.3390/nu6115153
PMCID: PMC4245585  PMID: 25412152
obesity; food addiction; neuroendocrinology; neuroimaging; reward-saliency; motivation-drive; learning/memory circuit; inhibitory control-emotional regulation-executive control; bariatric surgery; fecal microbiota transplantation
20.  Food Addiction: An Evolving Nonlinear Science 
Nutrients  2014;6(11):5370-5391.
The purpose of this review is to familiarize readers with the role that addiction plays in the formation and treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes and disorders of eating. We will outline several useful models that integrate metabolism, addiction, and human relationship adaptations to eating. A special effort will be made to demonstrate how the use of simple and straightforward nonlinear models can and are being used to improve our knowledge and treatment of patients suffering from nutritional pathology. Moving forward, the reader should be able to incorporate some of the findings in this review into their own practice, research, teaching efforts or other interests in the fields of nutrition, diabetes, and/or bariatric (weight) management.
doi:10.3390/nu6115370
PMCID: PMC4245594  PMID: 25421535
obesity; food addiction; diabesity; type 2 diabetes; bariatrics; nutrition; nonlinear; IGS-IT (Information Gathering and Sharing-Information Technology); IGS-Flow Game; IGS-rooms
21.  CREB Phosphorylation Regulates Striatal Transcriptional Responses in the Self-Administration Model of Methamphetamine Addiction in the Rat 
Neurobiology of disease  2013;58:132-143.
Neuroplastic changes in dorsal striatum participate in the transition from casual to habitual drug use and might play a critical role in the development of methamphetamine (METH) addiction. We examined the influence of METH self-administration on gene and protein expression that may form substrates for METH-induced neuronal plasticity in the dorsal striatum. Male Sprague-Dawley rats self-administered METH (0.1 mg/kg/injection, i.v.) or received yoked saline infusions during eight 15-h sessions and were euthanized 2 h, 24 h, or 1 month after cessation of METH exposure. Changes in gene and protein expression were assessed using microarray analysis, RT-PCR and Western blots. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by PCR was used to examine epigenetic regulation of METH-induced transcription. METH self-administration caused increases in mRNA expression of the transcription factors, c-fos and fosb, the neurotrophic factor, Bdnf, and the synaptic protein, synaptophysin (Syp) in the dorsal striatum. METH also caused changes in ΔFosB, BDNF and TrkB protein levels, with increases after 2 and 24 h, but decreases after 1 month of drug abstinence. Importantly, ChIP-PCR showed that METH self-administration caused enrichment of phosphorylated CREB (pCREB), but not of histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3), on promoters of c-fos, fosb, Bdnf and Syp at 2 h after cessation of drug intake. These findings show that METH-induced changes in gene expression are mediated, in part, by pCREB-dependent epigenetic phenomena. Thus, METH self-administration might trigger epigenetic changes that mediate alterations in expression of genes and proteins serving as substrates for addiction-related synaptic plasticity.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2013.05.009
PMCID: PMC3748236  PMID: 23726845
methamphetamine; self-administration; dorsal striatum; ΔFosB; BDNF; pCREB
22.  Systematic Evaluation of “Compliance” to Prescribed Treatment Medications and “Abstinence” from Psychoactive Drug Abuse in Chemical Dependence Programs: Data from the Comprehensive Analysis of Reported Drugs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e104275.
This is the first quantitative analysis of data from urine drug tests for compliance to treatment medications and abstinence from drug abuse across “levels of care” in six eastern states of America. Comprehensive Analysis of Reported Drugs (CARD) data was used in this post-hoc retrospective observational study from 10,570 patients, filtered to include a total of 2,919 patients prescribed at least one treatment medication during 2010 and 2011. The first and last urine samples (5,838 specimens) were analyzed; compliance to treatment medications and abstinence from drugs of abuse supported treatment effectiveness for many. Compared to non-compliant patients, compliant patients were marginally less likely to abuse opioids, cannabinoids, and ethanol during treatment although more likely to abuse benzodiazepines. Almost 17% of the non-abstinent patients used benzodiazepines, 15% used opiates, and 10% used cocaine during treatment. Compliance was significantly higher in residential than in the non-residential treatment facilities. Independent of level of care, 67.2% of the patients (n = 1963; P<.001) had every treatment medication found in both first and last urine specimens (compliance). In addition, 39.2% of the patients (n = 1143; P<.001) had no substance of abuse detected in either the first or last urine samples (abstinence). Moreover, in 2010, 16.9% of the patients (n = 57) were abstinent at first but not at last urine (deteriorating abstinence), the percentage dropped to 13.3% (n = 174) in 2011; this improvement over years was statistically significant. A longitudinal analysis for abstinence and compliance was studied in a randomized subset from 2011, (n = 511) representing 17.5% of the total cohort. A statistically significant upward trend (p = 2.353×10−8) of abstinence rates as well as a similar but stronger trend for compliance ((p = 2.200×10−16) was found. Being cognizant of the trend toward drug urine testing being linked to medical necessity eliminating abusive screening, the interpretation of these valuable results require further intensive investigation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104275
PMCID: PMC4172565  PMID: 25247439
23.  Dopamine and glucose, obesity, and reward deficiency syndrome 
Obesity as a result of overeating as well as a number of well described eating disorders has been accurately considered to be a world-wide epidemic. Recently a number of theories backed by a plethora of scientifically sound neurochemical and genetic studies provide strong evidence that food addiction is similar to psychoactive drug addiction. Our laboratory has published on the concept known as Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) which is a genetic and epigenetic phenomena leading to impairment of the brain reward circuitry resulting in a hypo-dopaminergic function. RDS involves the interactions of powerful neurotransmitters and results in abnormal craving behavior. A number of important facts which could help translate to potential therapeutic targets espoused in this focused review include: (1) consumption of alcohol in large quantities or carbohydrates binging stimulates the brain’s production of and utilization of dopamine; (2) in the meso-limbic system the enkephalinergic neurons are in close proximity, to glucose receptors; (3) highly concentrated glucose activates the calcium channel to stimulate dopamine release from P12 cells; (4) a significant correlation between blood glucose and cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of homovanillic acid the dopamine metabolite; (5) 2-deoxyglucose (2DG), the glucose analog, in pharmacological doses is associated with enhanced dopamine turnover and causes acute glucoprivation. Evidence from animal studies and fMRI in humans support the hypothesis that multiple, but similar brain circuits are disrupted in obesity and drug dependence and for the most part, implicate the involvement of DA-modulated reward circuits in pathologic eating behaviors. Based on a consensus of neuroscience research treatment of both glucose and drug like cocaine, opiates should incorporate dopamine agonist therapy in contrast to current theories and practices that utilizes dopamine antagonistic therapy. Considering that up until now clinical utilization of powerful dopamine D2 agonists have failed due to chronic down regulation of D2 receptors newer targets based on novel less powerful D2 agonists that up-regulate D2 receptors seems prudent. We encourage new strategies targeted at improving DA function in the treatment and prevention of obesity a subtype of reward deficiency.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00919
PMCID: PMC4166230  PMID: 25278909
obesity; glucose craving; dopamine release; glucoprivation; neurogentics; reward deficiency syndrome
24.  Hatching the behavioral addiction egg: Reward Deficiency Solution System (RDSS)™ as a function of dopaminergic neurogenetics and brain functional connectivity linking all addictions under a common rubric 
Journal of Behavioral Addictions  2014;3(3):149-156.
Abstract
Background: Following the first association between the dopamine D2 receptor gene polymorphism and severe alcoholism, there has been an explosion of research reports in the psychiatric and behavioral addiction literature and neurogenetics. With this increased knowledge, the field has been rife with controversy. Moreover, with the advent of Whole Genome-Wide Studies (GWAS) and Whole Exome Sequencing (WES), along with Functional Genome Convergence, the multiple-candidate gene approach still has merit and is considered by many as the most prudent approach. However, it is the combination of these two approaches that will ultimately define real, genetic allelic relationships, in terms of both risk and etiology. Since 1996, our laboratory has coined the umbrella term Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) to explain the common neurochemical and genetic mechanisms involved with both substance and non-substance, addictive behaviors. Methods: This is a selective review of peer-reviewed papers primary listed in Pubmed and Medline. Results: A review of the available evidence indicates the importance of dopaminergic pathways and resting-state, functional connectivity of brain reward circuits. Discussion: Importantly, the proposal is that the real phenotype is RDS and impairments in the brain’s reward cascade, either genetically or environmentally (epigenetically) induced, influence both substance and non-substance, addictive behaviors. Understanding shared common mechanisms will ultimately lead to better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of relapse. While, at this juncture, we cannot as yet state that we have “hatched the behavioral addiction egg”, we are beginning to ask the correct questions and through an intense global effort will hopefully find a way of “redeeming joy” and permitting homo sapiens live a life, free of addiction and pain.
doi:10.1556/JBA.3.2014.019
PMCID: PMC4189308  PMID: 25317338
neurogenetics; epigenetics; dopaminergic; Reward Deficiency Syndrome; dopamine agonist therapy
25.  Hypothesizing Darkness Induced Alcohol Intake Linked to Dopaminergic Regulation of Brain Function 
Psychology (Irvine, Calif.)  2014;5(4):282-288.
Understanding the role of neurotransmission in the prefrontal cortex and mesolimbic brain regions has become the subject of intensive neuroscience research worldwide. In the 1970s, our group provided evidence that rats exposed to darkness significantly augmented their alcohol intake. At that time, we proposed that melatonin was the culprit. At around the same time, our laboratory, amongst a few others, proposed that dopamine-adducts with acetaldehyde to induce alcohol intake both in rodents and in humans. While the work in these areas has declined considerably over the years, more recent scientifically sound studies continue to show the importance of these earlier controversial ideas involving alcohol abuse and alcoholism. A review of the literature has provided impetus to systematically access the newer genetic and molecular neurobiological findings relevant to the physiological and psychological motives for high alcohol consumption in animals and humans alike. Thus, we hypothesize that darkness-induced alcohol intake is linked not only to serotonergic-melatonin mechanisms, but also to dopaminergic regulation of brain mesolimbic pathways involving neuronal expression switching in response to long photoperiods affecting gene expression.
doi:10.4236/psych.2014.54038
PMCID: PMC4083566  PMID: 25009759
Photoperiod; alcohol intake; dopamine; reward pathway; serotonin and melatonin; nocturnal

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