Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Penn Researchers Show Cocaine Addiction Resistance May Be Passed Down from Father to Son

Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Animal model reveals paternal cocaine use confers protection against rewarding effects of cocaine in male but not female offspring.

New research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reveals that sons of male rats exposed to cocaine are resistant to the rewarding effects of the drug, suggesting that cocaine-induced changes in physiology are passed down from father to son. The findings are published in the latest edition of Nature Neuroscience.

“We know that genetic factors contribute significantly to the risk of cocaine abuse, but the potential role of epigenetic influences, how certain genes related to addiction are expressed, is still relatively unknown,” said senior study author R. Christopher Pierce, PhD, associate professor of Neuroscience in Psychiatry at Penn. “This study is the first to show that the chemical effects of cocaine use can be passed down to future generations to cause a resistance to addictive behavior, indicating that paternal exposure to toxins can have profound effects on gene expression and behavior of their offspring.”

In the current study, the team used an animal model to study inherited effects of cocaine abuse. Male rats self-administered cocaine for 60 days, while controls were administered saline. The male rats were mated with females that had never been exposed to the drug. To eliminate any influence that the males' behavior would have on the pregnant females, they were separated directly after they mated.

The rats’ offspring were monitored to see whether they would begin to self-administer cocaine when it was offered to them. The researchers discovered that male offspring of rats exposed to the drug, but not the female offspring, acquired cocaine self-administration more slowly and had decreased levels of cocaine intake relative to controls. Moreover, control animals were willing to work significantly harder for a single cocaine dose than the offspring of cocaine-addicted rats, suggesting that the rewarding effect of cocaine was decreased.

In collaboration with Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili, MS, PhD, from MGH, the researchers subsequently examined the animals’ brains and found that male offspring of the cocaine-addicted rats had increased levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the prefrontal cortex, which is known to blunt the behavioral effects of cocaine.

“We were quite surprised that the male offspring of sires that used cocaine didn't like cocaine as much,” said Pierce. “We identified one change in the brain that appears to underlie this cocaine resistance effect.  But there are undoubtedly other physiological changes as well and we are currently performing more broad experiments to identify them.  We also are eager to perform similar studies with more widely used drugs of abuse such as nicotine and alcohol.”

The findings suggest that cocaine causes epigenetic changes in sperm, thereby reprogramming the information transmitted between generations.  The researchers don’t know exactly why only the male offspring received the cocaine-resistant trait from their fathers, but speculate that sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and/or progesterone may play a role.

The first author of the paper, Fair M. Vassoler, PhD, is a recent graduate of the Penn neuroscience graduate group. Other investigators from Penn who contributed to this work include Samantha L. White and Heath D. Schmidt.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Synthetic DNA Vaccine Against MERS Shows Promise
A novel synthetic DNA vaccine can, for the first time, induce protective immunity against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in animal species.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Cell Aging Slowed by Putting Brakes on Noisy Transcription
Experiments in yeast hint at ways to extend life of some human cells.
Monday, August 03, 2015
Disrupting Cells’ ‘Powerhouses’ Can Lead to Tumor Growth
University of Pennsylvania researchers find that mitochondrial defects have a key role in a cells becoming cancerous.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics to Rise on Penn Medicine Campus
New facility poised to accelerate the research and development of personalized cellular cancer therapies.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Cell Senescence, Aging Related to Epigenetic Changes
One way cells promote tumor suppression is through a process called senescence, an irreversible arrest of proliferation.
Monday, September 02, 2013
Tension on Gut Muscles Induces Cell Invasion in Zebrafish Intestine
Study finds this effect mimics cancer metastasis.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Pancreatic Cancer Can Run but Not Hide
Immune system tricked into helping cancer cells, but can be blocked, according to Penn study.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Scientific News
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
Searching Big Data Faster
Theoretical analysis could expand applications of accelerated searching in biology, other fields.
Growing Hepatitis C in the Lab
Recent discovery allows study of naturally occurring forms of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the lab.
Inciting an Immune Attack on Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
Reprogramming Cancer Cells
Researchers on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have discovered a way to potentially reprogram cancer cells back to normalcy.
Genetic Overlapping in Multiple Autoimmune Diseases May Suggest Common Therapies
CHOP genomics expert leads analysis of genetic architecture, with eye on repurposing existing drugs.
Surprising Mechanism Behind Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Uncovered
Now, scientists at TSRI have discovered that the important human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, develops resistance to this drug by “switching on” a previously uncharacterized set of genes.
How DNA ‘Proofreader’ Proteins Pick and Edit Their Reading Material
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered how two important proofreader proteins know where to look for errors during DNA replication and how they work together to signal the body’s repair mechanism.
Fat in the Family?
Study could lead to therapeutics that boost metabolism.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!