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Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Houston, Texas

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
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Mouse Models for Nicotine's Interaction with Stress

This grant addresses the neuronal mechanisms underlying addiction, with particular emphasis on the interaction between stress and nicotine. The lab takes advantage of genetically engineered mice to examine the role of the various nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in the mechanisms underlying nicotine's effects. These studies focus on the affective and somatic manifestations of withdrawal and on how stress can exacerbate those symptoms and hinder smoking cessation.

We are particularly interested in the role played by the medial habenula/interpeduncular axis, and the nicotinic receptors contained therein, in the behavioral manifestations of withdrawal. Molecular studies using lentiviral vectors for the brain region-specific knock back or knock down of nicotinic subunits complement and corroborate the findings obtained on germline knockout models. Biochemistry and histology experiments are also conducted to determine the molecular events underlying behavior.

Relevance of the project to IDDRC mission:

Addiction is produced by alterations in the brain reward system. It is a health related issue that affects millions of individuals. Drug abuse is often a co-morbid condition in patients affected by mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.

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