Drug addiction is characterized by uncontrolled drug consumption and high rates of relapse to drug taking during periods of attempted abstinence. Addiction is now largely considered a disorder of experience-dependent neuroplasticity, driven by remodeling of synapses in reward and motivation relevant brain circuits in response to a history of prolonged drug intake. Alterations in gene expression play a central role in addiction-relevant neuroplasticity, but the mechanisms by which additive drugs remodel brain motivation circuits remains unclear. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of noncoding RNA that can regulate the expression of large numbers of protein-coding mRNA transcripts by binding to the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of target transcripts and blocking their translation into the encoded protein or triggering their destabilization and degradation. Emerging evidence has implicated miRNAs in regulating addiction-relevant neuroplasticity in the brain, and in controlling the motivational properties of cocaine and other drugs of abuse. Here, the role for miRNAs in regulating basic aspects of neuronal function is reviewed. The involvement of miRNAs in controlling the motivational properties of addictive drugs is also summarized. Finally, mechanisms by which miRNAs exert their actions on drug intake, when known, are considered.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience|
|State||Published - 2014|