Navigation Links
Wake Forest Baptist researchers study alcohol addiction using optogenetics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Dec. 15, 2013 Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers are gaining a better understanding of the neurochemical basis of addiction with a new technology called optogenetics.

In neuroscience research, optogenetics is a newly developed technology that allows researchers to control the activity of specific populations of brain cells, or neurons, using light. And it's all thanks to understanding how tiny green algae, that give pond scum its distinctive color, detect and use light to grow.

The technology enables researchers like Evgeny A. Budygin, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist, to address critical questions regarding the role of dopamine in alcohol drinking-related behaviors, using a rodent model.

"With this technique, we've basically taken control of specific populations of dopamine cells, using light to make them respond almost like flipping a light switch," said Budygin. "These data provide us with concrete direction about what kind of patterns of dopamine cell activation might be most effective to target alcohol drinking."

The latest study from Budygin and his team published online in last month's journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Co-author Jeffrey L. Weiner, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist, said one of the biggest challenges in neuroscience has been to control the activity of brain cells in the same way that the brain actually controls them. With optogenetics, neuroscientists can turn specific neurons on or off at will, proving that those neurons actually govern specific behaviors.

"We have known for many years what areas of the brain are involved in the development of addiction and which neurotransmitters are essential for this process," Weiner said. "We need to know the causal relationship between neurochemical changes in the brain and addictive behaviors, and optogenetics is making that possible now."

The researchers used cutting-edge molecular techniques to express the light-responsive channelrhodopsin protein in a specific population of dopamine cells in the brain-reward system of rodents. They then implanted tiny optical fibers into this brain region and were able to control the activity of these dopamine cells by flashing a blue laser on them.

"You can place an electrode in the brain and apply an electrical current to mimic the way brain cells get excited, but when you do that you're activating all the cells in that area," Weiner said. "With optogenetics, we were able to selectively control a specific population of dopamine cells in a part of the brain-reward system. Using this technique, we discovered distinct patterns of dopamine cell activation that seemed to be able to disrupt the alcohol-drinking behavior of the rats."

Weiner said there is translational value from the study because "it gives us better insight into how we might want to use something like deep-brain stimulation to treat alcoholism. Doctors are starting to use deep-brain stimulation to treat everything from anxiety to depression, and while it works, there is little scientific understanding behind it, he said.

Budygin agreed. "Now we are taking the first steps in this direction," he said. "It was impossible before the optogenetic era."


Contact: Bonnie Davis
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Related medicine news :

1. Wake Forest Baptist research provides clue to unexplained excited delirium deaths
2. Wake Forest Baptist study suggests Tasers dont cause cardiac complications
3. Wake Forest Baptist research goes global with genetic center in India
4. Is housework a health hazard? Sheet-Fitting palsy described by wake forest baptist physicians
5. Smaller radiation fields can spare brain when treating tumors, Wake Forest Baptist research finds
6. Measuring the consequence of forest fires on public health
7. Nashville Periodontal Group Is Expanding Their Sedation Dentistry To Include Patients In Forest Hills, TN Needing Dental Anxiety Relief
8. Wake Forest Baptist research provides clues to alcohol addiction vulnerability
9. Wake Forest Herbfest Sponsors America In Bloom Competition
10. New Supplement Amaçari is Made from the Amazon Rainforest’s Most Potent Known Superfruit
11. The Republic of Tea Introduces 2013 First Flush Darjeeling Full-Leaf Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Tea
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Cancer patients, ... and experiences at a live taping of the next CURE Connections® ... of Gastrointestinal Cancers 2015 Symposium at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s ... a holiday pop-up clinic located in Metro Atlanta’s North Point Mall. The clinic is ... different way. The location is scheduled to operate through Dec. 24. , Holiday Pop-Up ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... With Thanksgiving right around the corner, holiday travel season ... protect your family and vehicle. , According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ... is sharing the following safety tips from the NHTSA: , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... , LLC launched their Pro Vest, the latest version of their widely popular weight loss ... 10 hours. , The campaign, which will continue to run through Saturday, ... , The PRO Vest provides consumers with a less expensive, one-size fits all comfort option, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Chiropractic student Katie ... (CU-KC), in Overland Park, Kansas. Benson, a fifth-trimester student in the university’s ... Cleveland III on October 16. , “Katie is very excited and greatly appreciative ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24. November 2015 Avery Biomedical ... Systems, ist erfreut, die Berufung von Anders ... geben zu können. ... --> Foto -   ... Von 1984-1986 war er Fellow des Cardiovascular ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... India , November 24, 2015 ... market research report "Spine Biologics Market by Product Type (Bone ... (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion), End ... MarketsandMarkets, the global market was valued at $1.90 Billion in ... at a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Avery Biomedical Devices (ABD), ... to announce the appointment of Anders Jonzon , ... Dr. Jonzon is a ... Children,s Hospital, Uppsala University, Uppsala and Children,s Hospital, Karolinska, ... was a fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute (UCSF). His ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: