Dopamine and Glutamate: criminal (addictive) conspiracy

Dopamine and glutamate receptors are able to physically interact and the resulting protein complexes appear to control some of the responses induced by administrations of drugs of abuse such as cocaine. This observation was recently published in Molecular Psychiatry1 by the team of Jocelyne Caboche and Peter Vanhoutte2. The authors thus show that this protein complex may constitute a therapeutic target to treat drug addiction.

Addiction is a psychiatric disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking. It is known that the consumption of any drug of abuse enhances dopamine concentration in the striatum, a key area of the reward circuitry, where dopamine modulates the stimulatory effects of glutamate.Therefore, through the modification of the behavior and properties of the neurons of the striatum, drugs of abuse induce long-lasting dysfunctions in the neuronal reward circuitry.

“The complexes formed by dopamine and glutamate receptors could constitute potential therapeutic targets to alleviate not only addiction but also the vast spectrum of psychiatric diseases due to an imbalance of dopamine and glutamate, such as schizophrenia, autism or attention deficit disorders,” concludes Peter Vanhoutte.

1. Cahill E, et al. (2014) D1R/GluN1 complexes in the striatum integrate dopamine and glutamate signaling to control plasticity and cocaine-induced responses. Mol. Psychiatry. doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.73.

2. Neuronal signaling and gene regulation (Unity : Neuroscience); Drs Christian Lüscher et Vincent Pascoli, Department of Basic Science, University of Geneva, Suisse ; Dr Pierre Trifilieff, Nutrition and IntegrativeNeurobiology, INRA-UMR1286 , Bordeaux, France.