A new therapeutic target to combat addiction?

Drug addiction is a psychiatric disorder for which no pharmacological treatment with long-term efficacy currently exists. All addictive substances share the property of raising concentrations of the neurotransmitter dopamine within brain regions forming the neural reward circuit. This increase in dopamine levels results in long-lasting alteration of signal transmission that is dependent on another neurotransmitter, glutamate, which causes addictive behaviours. Through a new study Peter Vanhoutte's team and collaborateurs have uncovered, in mice and humans, the molecular bases of this deleterious interplay between dopamine and glutamate. The researchers’ work shows that the inhibition of interactions between dopamine and glutamate receptors prevents pathological behaviours provoked by cocaine in mice, without altering natural reward processing. Their findings, published in Science Advances (20 October 2021), pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat addiction, and a wider spectrum of psychiatric disorders. 


Disrupting D1-NMDA or D2-NMDA receptor heteromerization prevents cocaine’s rewarding effects but preserves natural reward processing. Andry Andrianarivelo, Estefani Saint-Jour, Paula Pousinha, Sebastian P. Fernandez,Anna Petitbon, Veronique De Smedt-Peyrusse, Nicolas Heck, Vanesa Ortiz, Marie-Charlotte Allichon, Vincent Kappès, Sandrine Betuing, Roman Walle, Ying Zhu, Charlène Joséphine, Alexis-Pierre Bemelmans, Gustavo Turecki, Naguib Mechawar, Jonathan A Javitch, Jocelyne Caboche, Pierre Trifilieff, Jacques Barik, Peter Vanhoutte. Le 20 Octobre 2021, Science Advanceshttps://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abg5970

Team lead by Peter Vanhoutte: Neuronal Signaling and Gene Regulation