While it is well established that the principal ascending pathways for pain originate in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and in the medulla, the control and sensitivity to pain may reside in additional neurological loci, especially in the mesolimbic system of the brain (i.e., a reward center), and a number of genes and associated polymorphisms may indeed impact pain tolerance and or sensitivity. It is hypothesized that these polymorphisms associate with a predisposition to intolerance or tolerance to pain. It is further hypothesized that identification of certain gene polymorphisms provides a unique therapeutic target to assist in the treatment of pain. It is hereby proposed that pharmacogenetic testing of certain candidate genes (i.e., mu receptors, PENK etc.) will result in pharmacogenomic solutions personalized to the individual patient, with potential improvement in clinical outcomes.
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.
Photoperiod; alcohol intake; dopamine; reward pathway; serotonin and melatonin; nocturnal
Substance use disorders (SUD) are inheritable and the culprit is hypodopaminergic function regulated by reward genes. We evaluated a natural dopaminergic agonist; KB220 intravenous (IV) and oral variants, to improve dopaminergic function in SUD. Our pilot experiment found a significant reduction of chronic symptoms, measured by the Chronic Abstinence Symptom Severity (CASS) Scale. The combined group (IV and oral) did significantly better than the oral-only group over the first week and 30-day follow-up period. Next, the combination was given to129 subjects and three factors; Emotion, Somatic, and Impaired Cognition, with eigenvalues greater than one were extracted for baseline CASS-Revised (CASS-R) variables. Paired sample t-tests for pre and post-treatment scales showed significant declines (p = .00001) from pre- to post-treatment: t = 19.1 for Emotion, t = 16.1 for Somatic, and t = 14.9 for Impaired Cognition. In a two-year follow-up of 23 subjects who underwent KB220IV therapy (at least five IV treatments over seven days) plus orals for 30+ days: 21 (91%) were sober at six months, 19 (82%) having no relapse; 19 (82%) were sober at one year, 18 (78%) having no relapse; and 21 (91%) were sober two-years post-treatment, 16 (70%) having no relapse. We await additional research and advise caution in interpreting these encouraging results.
Chronic Abstinence Symptom Severity (CASS) Scale; dopamine; KB220IV-neuroadaptagen amino-acid therapy (NAAT); reward deficiency syndrome (RDS)
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is present in 8% to 12% of children, and 4% of adults worldwide. Children with ADHD can have learning impairments, poor self-esteem, social dysfunction, and an increased risk of substance abuse, including cigarette smoking. Overall, the rate of treatment with medication for patients with ADHD has been increasing since 2008, with > 2 million children now being treated with stimulants. The rise of adolescent prescription ADHD medication abuse has occurred along with a concomitant increase of stimulant medication availability. Of adults presenting with a substance use disorder (SUD), 20% to 30% have concurrent ADHD, and 20% to 40% of adults with ADHD have a history of SUD. Following a brief review of the etiology of ADHD, its diagnosis and treatment, we focus on the benefits of early and appropriate testing for a predisposition to ADHD. We suggest that by genotyping patients for a number of known, associated dopaminergic polymorphisms, especially at an early age, misdiagnoses and/or over-diagnosis can be reduced. Ethical and legal issues of early genotyping are considered. As many as 30% of individuals with ADHD are estimated to either have secondary side-effects or are not responsive to stimulant medication. We also consider the benefits of non-stimulant medication and alternative treatment modalities, which include diet, herbal medications, iron supplementation, and neurofeedback. With the goals of improving treatment of patients with ADHD and SUD prevention, we encourage further work in both genetic diagnosis and novel treatment approaches.
genetics; attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; diagnosis; treatment; legal aspects of testing
Addictions to smoking, alcohol, illicit drugs, and certain behaviors like gambling, overeating, and sex, are prevalent worldwide. These behaviors are highly destructive and costly to individuals and society due to health consequences, criminality and lost productivity. The genetic vulnerability, environmental exposures, and individual behaviors that contribute to the brain dysfunction and compulsive tendencies that mark addiction make it one of the most complicated diseases to study and treat. Although much has been learned about the genetic basis of and biochemical imbalances associated with the addictions, research leading to effective treatments has been slow. Addictions are often accompanied by an inner sense of disintegration, enslavement and meaninglessness that can be viewed in terms of a spiritual craving for wholeness, freedom, and transformation. Arguably, progress towards effective treatment has been retarded by insufficient attention being paid to understanding the role of spirituality in helping to heal addicts. Assuming one accepts the belief that the brain mediates all conscious and unconscious experiences- including spiritually experiences -healing, like addictions, can be related to the processes by which the human brain is organized for controlling pleasure and pain. Here we hypothesize that a healthy spirituality may come more naturally to some individuals because of the unique interaction of their genes and their environments, and we review the evidence in support of this view.
Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS); Genes; Dopaminergic; Reward dependence; Spirituality; Addiction recovery; Twelve steps
The nucleus accumbens, a site within the ventral striatum, plays a prominent role in mediating the reinforcing effects of drugs of abuse, food, sex, and other addictions. Indeed, it is generally believed that this structure mandates motivated behaviors such as eating, drinking, and sexual activity, which are elicited by natural rewards and other strong incentive stimuli. This article focuses on sex addiction, but we hypothesize that there is a common underlying mechanism of action for the powerful effects that all addictions have on human motivation. That is, biological drives may have common molecular genetic antecedents, which if impaired, lead to aberrant behaviors. Based on abundant scientific support, we further hypothesize that dopaminergic genes, and possibly other candidate neurotransmitter-related gene polymorphisms, affect both hedonic and anhedonic behavioral outcomes. Genotyping studies already have linked gene polymorphic associations with alcohol and drug addictions and obesity, and we anticipate that future genotyping studies of sex addicts will provide evidence for polymorphic associations with specific clustering of sexual typologies based on clinical instrument assessments. We recommend that scientists and clinicians embark on research coupling the use of neuroimaging tools with dopaminergic agonistic agents to target specific gene polymorphisms systematically for normalizing hyper- or hypo-sexual behaviors.
dopamine; mesolimbic systems; neurogenetics; reward deficiency syndrome (RDS); sexual addiction
Chernobyl demonstrated that iodine-131 (131I) released in a nuclear accident can cause malignant thyroid nodules to develop in children within a 300 mile radius of the incident. Timely potassium iodide (KI) administration can prevent the development of thyroid cancer and the American Thyroid Association (ATA) and a number of United States governmental agencies recommend KI prophylaxis. Current pre-distribution of KI by the United States government and other governments with nuclear reactors is probably ineffective. Thus we undertook a thorough scientific review, regarding emergency response to 131I exposures. We propose: (1) pre-distribution of KI to at risk populations; (2) prompt administration, within 2 hours of the incident; (3) utilization of a lowest effective KI dose; (4) distribution extension to at least 300 miles from the epicenter of a potential nuclear incident; (5) education of the public about dietary iodide sources; (6) continued post-hoc analysis of the long-term impact of nuclear accidents; and (7) support for global iodine sufficiency programs. Approximately two billion people are at risk for iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), the world’s leading cause of preventable brain damage. Iodide deficient individuals are at greater risk of developing thyroid cancer after 131I exposure. There are virtually no studies of KI prophylaxis in infants, children and adolescents, our target population. Because of their sensitivity to these side effects, we have suggested that we should extrapolate from the lowest effective adult dose, 15–30 mg or 1–2 mg per 10 pounds for children. We encourage global health agencies (private and governmental) to consider these critical recommendations.
iodine-131 (131I); potassium iodide (KI); nuclear terrorism; accidental errors; uranium fission; children; plume radius
The endemic of legal opioid iatrogenic induced prescription drug abuse is of major world-wide concern. Understanding pain pathways and the role of dopaminergic tone in the neurophysiology of pain relief provides potential therapeutic solutions. A 2011 NIDA report indicated that approximately 8.7% of the entire US population above the age of 12 years has used a psychoactive drug within the past 30 days. It has been reported that the overall genetic contribution to the variance of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) was approximately 60% but each candidate gene evaluated by GWAS was relatively small. In an attempt to combat this global endemic we are proposing a number of alternative strategies. Prevention of death due to opioid overdose and attenuation of prescription abuse should focus on strategies that target 1) high-dosage medical users; 2) persons who seek care from multiple doctors; 3) persons involved in “drug diversion”; 4) genetic testing for addiction liability and severity indices; 5) non-pharmacolgical analgesic treatments such as electrotherapy.
Pain; Analgesia; Electrotherapy; Genetic addiction risk score; Dopamine; Substance use disorder (SUD)
Various trials have been conducted on the management and treatment of androgenic alopecia (AGA) or male pattern hair loss using a variety of laser and light sources.
For this feasibility study, the population was composed of males between the ages of 20 and 60 years who have been experiencing active hair loss within the last 12 months and the diagnosis of AGA. They also had a Norwood-Hamilton classification of 3, 3A, 3 V, 4, 4A, or 5 for the hair thinning patterns and skin type I, II, III, or IV on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale. This two-arm randomized, parallel group study design employed stratifying randomization to balance treatment assignment within three investigational centers with at least 2 subjects enrolled in each Fitzpatrick skin type.
A statistically significant positive trend in hair growth was observed from this pilot study, to evaluate the efficacy of the novel cold X5 hairlaser device for treating male androgenic alopecia. From the repeated measures analysis of variance, difference in mean hair counts over time was statistically significant (F = 7.70; p-value < 0.0001). Subsequent, linear regression of mean hair counts at each time point was performed, and post-hoc analysis found an increasing trend of hair growth over time that was statistically significant (p-value < 0.0001) with the estimated slope of 1.406. Increased hair counts from the baseline to the end of the 26-week period were found to be strongly significant (p-value = 0.0003).
Albeit, sham device failure and resultant missing data from the control group, the positive trend hair growth, was observed due to the chronic use of X5hairlaser device. This positive benefit while in full agreement with other low laser hair devices requires intensive further investigation.
Androgenic alopecia; Distributed laser light; Monochromatic light; Linear regression
While numerous studies support the efficacy of methadone and buprenorphine for the stabilization and maintenance of opioid dependence, clinically significant opioid withdrawal symptoms occur upon tapering and cessation of dosage.
We present a case study of a 35 year old Caucasian female (Krissie) who was prescribed increasing dosages of prescription opioids after carpel tunnel surgery secondary to chronic pain from reflex sympathetic dystrophy and fibromyalgia. Over the next 5 years, daily dosage requirements increased to over 80 mg of Methadone and 300 ug/hr Fentanyl transdermal patches, along with combinations of 12–14 1600 mcg Actig lollipop and oral 100 mg Morphine and 30 mg oxycodone 1–2 tabs q4-6hr PRN for breakthrough pain. Total monthly prescription costs including supplemental benzodiazepines, hypnotics and stimulants exceeded $50,000. The patient was subsequently transferred to Suboxone® in 2008, and the dosage was gradually tapered until her admission for inpatient detoxification with KB220Z a natural dopaminergic agonist. We carefully documented her withdrawal symptoms when she precipitously stopped taking buprenorphine/naloxone and during follow-up while taking KB220Z daily. We also genotyped the patient using a reward gene panel including (9 genes 18 alleles): DRD 2,3,4; MOA-A; COMT; DAT1; 5HTTLLR; OPRM1; and GABRA3.
At 432 days post Suboxone® withdrawal the patient is being maintained on KB220Z, has been urine tested and is opioid free. Genotyping data revealed a moderate genetic risk for addiction showing a hypodopaminergic trait. This preliminary case data suggest that the daily use of KB220Z could provide a cost effective alternative substitution adjunctive modality for Suboxone®. We encourage double-blind randomized –placebo controlled studies to test the proposition that KB220Z may act as a putative natural opioid substitution maintenance adjunct.
Buprenorphine/naloxone; Withdrawal; Natural dopaminergic agonist
It is well established that inherited human aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH-2) deficiency reduces the risk for alcoholism. Kudzu plants and extracts have been used for 1,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat alcoholism. Kudzu contains daidzin, which inhibits ALDH-2 and suppresses heavy drinking in rodents. Decreased drinking due to ALDH-2 inhibition is attributed to aversive properties of acetaldehyde accumulated during alcohol consumption. However not all of the anti-alcohol properties of diadzin are due to inhibition of ALDH-2. This is in agreement with our earlier work showing significant interaction effects of both pyrozole (ALDH-2 inhibitor) and methyl-pyrozole (non-inhibitor) and ethanol’s depressant effects. Moreover, it has been suggested that selective ALDH 2 inhibitors reduce craving for alcohol by increasing dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). In addition there is significant evidence related to the role of the genetics of bitter receptors (TAS2R) and its stimulation as an aversive mechanism against alcohol intake. The inclusion of bitters such as Gentian & Tangerine Peel in Declinol provides stimulation of gut TAS2R receptors which is potentially synergistic with the effects of Kudzu. Finally the addition of Radix Bupleuri in the Declinol formula may have some protective benefits not only in terms of ethanol induced liver toxicity but neurochemical actions involving endorphins, dopamine and epinephrine. With this information as a rationale, we report herein that this combination significantly reduced Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores administered to ten heavy drinkers (M=8, F=2; 43.2 ± 14.6 years) attending a recovery program. Specifically, from the pre-post comparison of the AUD scores, it was found that the score of every participant decreased after the intervention which ranged from 1 to 31. The decrease in the scores was found to be statistically significant with the p-value of 0.00298 (two-sided paired test; p-value = 0.00149 for one-sided test). Albeit this being a small pilot, we are encouraged about these significant results, and caution any interpretation until larger controlled studies are executed.
Declinol; Kudzu; Daidzin; ALDH 2 inhibitors; Dopamine; Gentian and tangerine peel; Radix burpleuri; Alcoholism and reward deficiency
Lung cancer accounts for the highest number of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Early diagnosis significantly increases the disease-free survival rate and a large amount of effort has been expended in screening trials and the development of early molecular diagnostics. However, a gold standard diagnostic strategy is not yet available. Here, based on miRNA expression profile in lung cancer and using a novel in silico reverse-transcriptomics approach, followed by analysis of the interactome; we have identified potential transcription factor (TF) markers that would facilitate diagnosis of subtype specific lung cancer. A subset of seven TF markers has been used in a microarray screen and was then validated by blood-based qPCR using stage-II and IV non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC). Our results suggest that overexpression of HMGA1, E2F6, IRF1, and TFDP1 and downregulation or no expression of SUV39H1, RBL1, and HNRPD in blood is suitable for diagnosis of lung adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma sub-types of NSCLC. Here, E2F6 was, for the first time, found to be upregulated in NSCLC blood samples. The miRNA-TF-miRNA interaction based molecular mechanisms of these seven markers in NSCLC revealed that HMGA1 and TFDP1 play vital roles in lung cancer tumorigenesis. The strategy developed in this work is applicable to any other cancer or disease and can assist in the identification of potential biomarkers.
Genetic mediated physiological processes that rely on both pharmacological and nutritional principles hold great promise for the successful therapeutic targeting of reduced carbohydrate craving, body-friendly fat loss, healthy body recomposition, and overall wellness. By integrating an assembly of scientific knowledge on inheritable characteristics and environmental mediators of gene expression, we review the relationship of genes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients as they correct unwanted weight gain coupled with unhappiness. In contrast to a simple one-locus, one-mechanism focus on pharmaceuticals alone, we hypothesize that the use of nutrigenomic treatment targeting multi-physiological neurological, immunological, and metabolic pathways will enable clinicians to intercede in the process of lipogenesis by promoting lipolysis while attenuating aberrant glucose cravings. In turn, this approach will enhance wellness in a safe and predictable manner through the use of a Genetic Positioning System (GPS) Map. The GPS Map, while presently incomplete, ultimately will serve not only as a blueprint for personalized medicine in the treatment of obesity, but also for the development of strategies for reducing many harmful addictive behaviors and promoting optimal health by using substances compatible with the body’s immune system.
In accord with the new definition of addiction published by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) it is well-known that individuals who present to a treatment center involved in chemical dependency or other documented reward dependence behaviors have impaired brain reward circuitry. They have hypodopaminergic function due to genetic and/or environmental negative pressures upon the reward neuro-circuitry. This impairment leads to aberrant craving behavior and other behaviors such as Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Neurogenetic research in both animal and humans revealed that there is a well-defined cascade in the reward site of the brain that leads to normal dopamine release. This cascade has been termed the “Brain Reward Cascade” (BRC). Any impairment due to either genetics or environmental influences on this cascade will result in a reduced amount of dopamine release in the brain reward site. Manipulation of the BRC has been successfully achieved with neuro-nutrient therapy utilizing nutrigenomic principles. After over four decades of development, neuro-nutrient therapy has provided important clinical benefits when appropriately utilized. This is a review, with some illustrative case histories from a number of addiction professionals, of certain molecular neurobiological mechanisms which if ignored may lead to clinical complications.
Neuro-nutrient therapy; Neuroadaptagen Amino-Acid Therapy™ (NAAT); Brain reward circuitry; Reward Deficiency Syndrome(RDS); Neurogenetics; Nutrigenomics; Dopamine; Reward Genes
Addictions to illicit drugs are among the nation’s most critical public health and societal problems. The current opioid prescription epidemic and the need for buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®; SUBX) as an opioid maintenance substance, and its growing street diversion provided impetus to determine affective states (“true ground emotionality”) in long-term SUBX patients. Toward the goal of effective monitoring, we utilized emotion-detection in speech as a measure of “true” emotionality in 36 SUBX patients compared to 44 individuals from the general population (GP) and 33 members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Other less objective studies have investigated emotional reactivity of heroin, methadone and opioid abstinent patients. These studies indicate that current opioid users have abnormal emotional experience, characterized by heightened response to unpleasant stimuli and blunted response to pleasant stimuli. However, this is the first study to our knowledge to evaluate “true ground” emotionality in long-term buprenorphine/naloxone combination (Suboxone™). We found in long-term SUBX patients a significantly flat affect (p<0.01), and they had less self-awareness of being happy, sad, and anxious compared to both the GP and AA groups. We caution definitive interpretation of these seemingly important results until we compare the emotional reactivity of an opioid abstinent control using automatic detection in speech. These findings encourage continued research strategies in SUBX patients to target the specific brain regions responsible for relapse prevention of opioid addiction.
Opiate addiction is associated with many adverse health and social harms, fatal overdose, infectious disease transmission, elevated health care costs, public disorder, and crime. Although community-based addiction treatment programs continue to reduce the harms of opiate addiction with narcotic substitution therapy such as methadone maintenance, there remains a need to find a substance that not only blocks opiate-type receptors (mu, delta, etc.) but also provides agonistic activity; hence the impetus arose for the development of a combination of narcotic antagonism and mu receptor agonist therapy. After three decades of extensive research the federal Drug Abuse Treatment Act 2000 (DATA) opened a window of opportunity for patients with addiction disorders by providing increased access to options for treatment. DATA allows physicians who complete a brief specialty-training course to become certified to prescribe buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone (Subutex, Suboxone) for treatment of patients with opioid dependence. Clinical studies indicate buprenorphine maintenance is as effective as methadone maintenance in retaining patients in substance abuse treatment and in reducing illicit opioid use. With that stated, we must consider the long-term benefits or potential toxicity attributed to Subutex or Suboxone. We describe a mechanism whereby chronic blockade of opiate receptors, in spite of only partial opiate agonist action, may ultimately block dopaminergic activity causing anti-reward and relapse potential. While the direct comparison is not as yet available, toxicity to buprenorphine can be found in the scientific literature. In considering our cautionary note in this commentary, we are cognizant that to date this is what we have available, and until such a time when the real magic bullet is discovered, we will have to endure. However, more than anything else this commentary should at least encourage the development of thoughtful new strategies to target the specific brain regions responsible for relapse prevention.
Executive functions are processes that act in harmony to control behaviors necessary for maintaining focus and achieving outcomes. Executive dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders is attributed to structural or functional pathology of brain networks involving prefrontal cortex (PFC) and its connections with other brain regions. The PFC receives innervations from different neurons associated with a number of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine (DA). Here we review findings on the contribution of PFC DA to higher-order cognitive and emotional behaviors. We suggest examination of multifactorial interactions of an individual’s genetic history, along with environmental risk factors, can assist in the characterization of executive functioning for that individual. Based upon the results of genetic studies we also propose genetic mapping as a probable diagnostic tool serving as a therapeutic adjunct for augmenting executive functioning capabilities. We conclude that preservation of the neurological underpinnings of executive functions requires the integrity of complex neural systems including the influence of specific genes and associated polymorphisms to provide adequate neurotransmission.
Executive functions; dopamine; prefrontal cortex; genetics; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)
Background and Hypothesis
It is well known that after prolonged abstinence, individuals who imbibe or use their drug of choice experience a powerful euphoria that precipitates serious relapse. While a biological explanation for this conundrum has remained elusive, we hypothesize that this clinically observed “super sensitivity” might be tied to genetic dopaminergic polymorphisms. Another therapeutic conundrum relates to the paradoxical finding that the dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine induces stronger activation of brain reward circuitry in individuals who carry the DRD2 A1 allele compared to DRD2 A2 allele carriers. Based upon the fact that carriers of the A1 allele relative to the A2 allele of the DRD2 gene have significantly lower D2 receptor density, a reduced sensitivity to dopamine agonist activity would be expected in the former. Thus, it is perplexing that with low D2 density there is an increase in reward sensitivity with the dopamine agonist bromocriptine. Moreover, under chronic or long-term therapy, the potential proliferation of D2 receptors with bromocriptine has been shown in vitro. This seems to lead to a positive outcome and significantly better treatment compliance only in A1 carriers.
Proposal and Conclusion
We propose that low D2 receptor density and polymorphisms of the D2 gene are associated with risk for relapse of substance abuse including alcohol dependence, heroin craving, cocaine dependence, methamphetamine abuse, nicotine sensitization, and glucose craving. With this in mind, we suggest a putative physiological mechanism that may help to explain the enhanced sensitivity following intense acute dopaminergic D2 receptor activation: “denervation supersensitivity.” Thus, the administration of dopamine D2 agonists would target D2 sensitization and attenuate relapse, especially in D2 receptor A1 allele carriers. This hypothesized mechanism is supported by clinical trials utilizing the amino-acid neurotransmitter precursors, enkephalinase and catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT) enzyme inhibition, which have resulted in attenuated relapse rates in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) probands. Future warranted translational research with positive outcome showing prevented or lower relapse in RDS will ultimately support the proposed concept, which we term “Deprivation-Amplification Relapse Therapy (DART).”
In an attempt to resolve controversy regarding the causal contributions of mesolimbic dopamine (DA) systems to reward, we evaluate the three main competing explanatory categories: “liking,” “learning,” and “wanting” . That is, DA may mediate (a) the hedonic impact of reward (liking), (b) learned predictions about rewarding effects (learning), or (c) the pursuit of rewards by attributing incentive salience to reward-related stimuli (wanting). We evaluate these hypotheses, especially as they relate to the Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS), and we find that the incentive salience or “wanting” hypothesis of DA function is supported by a majority of the evidence. Neuroimaging studies have shown that drugs of abuse, palatable foods, and anticipated behaviors such as sex and gaming affect brain regions involving reward circuitry, and may not be unidirectional. Drugs of abuse enhance DA signaling and sensitize mesolimbic mechanisms that evolved to attribute incentive salience to rewards. Addictive drugs have in common that they are voluntarily self-administered, they enhance (directly or indirectly) dopaminergic synaptic function in the nucleus accumbens, and they stimulate the functioning of brain reward circuitry (producing the “high” that drug users seek). Although originally believed simply to encode the set point of hedonic tone, these circuits now are believed to be functionally more complex, also encoding attention, reward expectancy, disconfirmation of reward expectancy, and incentive motivation. Elevated stress levels, together with polymorphisms of dopaminergic genes and other neurotransmitter genetic variants, may have a cumulative effect on vulnerability to addiction. The RDS model of etiology holds very well for a variety of chemical and behavioral addictions.
Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS); neuroimaging; dopamine; “wanting” and “liking”
Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) Positron Emission Topography (PET) brain hypometabolism (HM) correlates with diminished cognitive capacity and risk of developing dementia. However, because clinical utility of PET is limited by cost, we sought to determine whether a less costly electrophysiological measure, the P300 evoked potential, in combination with neuropsychological test performance, would validate PET HM in neuropsychiatric patients. We found that patients with amnestic and non-amnestic cognitive impairment and HM (n = 43) evidenced significantly reduced P300 amplitudes, delayed latencies, and neuropsychological deficits, compared to patients with normal brain metabolism (NM; n = 187). Data from patients with missing cognitive test scores (n = 57) were removed from the final sample, and logistic regression modeling was performed on the modified sample (n = 173, p = .000004). The logistic regression modeling, based on P300 and neuropsychological measures, was used to validate membership in the HM vs. NM groups. It showed classification validation in 13/25 HM subjects (52.0%) and in 125/148 NM subjects (84.5%), correlating with total classification accuracy of 79.8%. In this paper, abnormal P300 evoked potentials coupled with cognitive test impairment validates brain metabolism and mild/moderate cognitive impairment (MCI). To this end, we cautiously propose incorporating electrophysiological and neuropsychological assessments as cost-effective brain metabolism and MCI indicators in primary care. Final interpretation of these results must await required additional studies confirming these interesting results.
Now after many years of successful bariatric (weight-loss) surgeries directed at the obesity epidemic clinicians are reporting that some patients are replacing compulsive overeating with newly acquired compulsive disorders such as alcoholism, gambling, drugs, and other addictions like compulsive shopping and exercise. This review article explores evidence from psychiatric genetic animal and human studies that link compulsive overeating and other compulsive disorders to explain the phenomenon of addiction transfer. Possibly due to neurochemical similarities, overeating and obesity may act as protective factors reducing drug reward and addictive behaviors. In animal models of addiction withdrawal from sugar induces imbalances in the neurotransmitters, acetylcholine and dopamine, similar to opiate withdrawal. Many human neuroimaging studies have supported the concept of linking food craving to drug craving behavior. Previously our laboratory coined the term Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) for common genetic determinants in predicting addictive disorders and reported that the predictive value for future RDS behaviors in subjects carrying the DRD2 Taq A1 allele was 74%. While poly genes play a role in RDS, we have also inferred that disruptions in dopamine function may predispose certain individuals to addictive behaviors and obesity. It is now known that family history of alcoholism is a significant obesity risk factor. Therefore, we hypothesize here that RDS is the root cause of substituting food addiction for other dependencies and potentially explains this recently described Phenomenon (addiction transfer) common after bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery; Addiction transfer; Cross tolerance; Reward Deficiency Syndrome; Dopamine; Reward genes
Vibrio cholerae is the causal organism of the cholera epidemic, which is mostly prevalent in developing and underdeveloped countries. However, incidences of cholera in developed countries are also alarming. Because of the emergence of new drug-resistant strains, even though several generic drugs and vaccines have been developed over time, Vibrio infections remain a global health problem that appeals for the development of novel drugs and vaccines against the pathogen. Here, applying comparative proteomic and reverse vaccinology approaches to the exoproteome and secretome of the pathogen, we have identified three candidate targets (ompU, uppP and yajC) for most of the pathogenic Vibrio strains. Two targets (uppP and yajC) are novel to Vibrio, and two targets (uppP and ompU) can be used to develop both drugs and vaccines (dual targets) against broad spectrum Vibrio serotypes. Using our novel computational approach, we have identified three peptide vaccine candidates that have high potential to induce both B- and T-cell-mediated immune responses from our identified two dual targets. These two targets were modeled and subjected to virtual screening against natural compounds derived from Piper betel. Seven compounds were identified first time from Piper betel to be highly effective to render the function of these targets to identify them as emerging potential drugs against Vibrio. Our preliminary validation suggests that these identified peptide vaccines and betel compounds are highly effective against Vibrio cholerae. Currently we are exhaustively validating these targets, candidate peptide vaccines, and betel derived lead compounds against a number of Vibrio species.
Mindful of the new evolutionary ideas related to an emerging scientific focus known as omics, we propose that spiritual, social, and political behaviors may be tied in part to inheritable reward gene polymorphisms, as has been demonstrated for the addictions. If so, analyses of gene polymorphisms may assist in predicting liberalism or conservatism in partisan attachments. For example, both drinking (alcohol) and obesity seem to cluster in large social networks and are influenced by friends having the same genotype, in particular the DRD2 A1 allele. Likewise, voting, voting turnout and attachment to a particular political ideology is differentially related to various reward genes (e.g., 5HTT, MOA, DRD2, and DRD4), possibly predicting liberalism or conservatism. Moreover, voters’ genetic information may predict presidential outcomes more than the actual issues at hand or the presidential candidates themselves. Thus, political discussions on TV, radio, or other media may be morphed by one’s reward gene polymorphisms and as such, may explain the prevalence of generations of die-hard republicans and equally entrenched democratic legacies. Indeed, even in politics, birds of a feather (homophily) flock together. We caution that our proposal should be viewed mindfully awaiting additional research before definitive statements or conclusions can be derived from the studies to date, and we encourage large scale studies to confirm these earlier reports.
Liberalism; Conservatism; Politics; Friendships; Happiness; Reward Gene Polymorphisms