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Kicking the Habit: Reforming Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes

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Abstract Kicking the Habit: Reforming Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes Ashley Allen While mandatory minimum sentences apply to all drugs, in this paper, I primarily discuss them for marijuana, cocaine,

Abstract Kicking the Habit: Reforming Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes Ashley Allen While mandatory minimum sentences apply to all drugs, in this paper, I primarily discuss them for marijuana, cocaine, and opiates since these drugs are the most commonly used. My paper will include an exploration of the reasons behind the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences, an analysis of the problems involved with enforcing them, and a discussion about the harms such enforcement has on communities. While mandatory minimums were introduced to prevent discrimination in sentencing as people of color often faced much harsher sentences, the minimums have not been a lasting solution; rather these sentencing techniques have become a major component of the problems communities face associated with drug use. They enforce negative stereotypes and cycles of drug use, do not promote rehabilitation, and unnecessarily burden the judicial and prison systems. I will discuss both successful and failed attempts to reform these laws, and finally offer possible solutions for rethinking mandatory minimum laws, including harm reduction, sentencing restructuring, and the reform of federal laws.

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  • 2012-05

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Effects of miR-495 in Cocaine Addiction: Viral Mediated Overexpression and Inhibition of miR-495 Affects Cocaine-Seeking Behavior

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MicroRNAs are small, non-coding transcripts that control gene expression by preventing mRNA from translating into proteins. They have been implicated to play a role in many drug addictions. We previously

MicroRNAs are small, non-coding transcripts that control gene expression by preventing mRNA from translating into proteins. They have been implicated to play a role in many drug addictions. We previously found that miR-495 targets several addiction-related genes (ARGs) and is highly expressed in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We also found miR-495 is downregulated in the NAc following acute cocaine administration, and cocaine motivation measured by breakpoint on a progressive ratio schedule of cocaine reinforcement is decreased when miR-495 is overexpressed. In this study, we manipulated the endogenous levels of miR-495 by using a viral vector. Using an animal model, rats were first trained for self-administration on a fixed ratio (FR) schedule of reinforcement. After they were infused with a lentivirus to overexpress (LV-miR-495) or decrease (LV-Sponge) miR-495, in the NAc shell. The rats were then tested for extinction and reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior, which are measures of motivation for cocaine. We measured the relative levels of miR-495 in the NAc shell using qRT-PCR. Our results show that overexpression of miR-495 decreased cocaine-seeking behavior during extinction and cocaine reinstatement, as we hypothesized. Surprisingly, miR-495 LV-sponge also decreased cocaine-seeking behavior in extinction, not as we hypothesized. However, we found that LV-Sponge failed to significantly decrease levels of miR-495 as intended. In conclusion, understanding why LV-Sponge decreased, rather than increased, miR-495 will need further study, however, the results with LV-miR-495 extend previous findings that miR-495 plays a vital role in the molecular mechanism that influences motivation to seek cocaine.

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  • 2017-05

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The Effects of a Novel Serotonin-7 Receptor (5-HT7R) Antagonist, MC-RG19, on Cocaine-Related Behaviors

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The serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) system is implicated in the study of drug addiction. Of the 14 known serotonin receptor subtypes, the 5-HT7R is the most recently discovered and, therefore, one

The serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) system is implicated in the study of drug addiction. Of the 14 known serotonin receptor subtypes, the 5-HT7R is the most recently discovered and, therefore, one of the least rigorously studied. However, the 5-HT7R has been shown to play a role in multiple psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. This is not surprising, as the 5-HT7R is expressed in brain regions associated with emotion and reward, such as the amygdala, dorsal raphe nucleus, and striatum. MC-RG19 is a novel 5-HT7R antagonist which has >114-fold selectivity for the 5-HT7 over other serotonin receptors. This compound was developed by our collaborators at the Temple University School of Pharmacy. Due to this specificity, and the implications of the 5-HT7 in behavior, we hypothesized that MC-RG19 would have an effect on addiction-related behaviors. We investigated the effects of MC-RG19 on spontaneous locomotion, cue-induced reinstatement, and cocaine/sucrose multiple schedule self-administration. We observed a dose-dependent decrease in spontaneous locomotor activity with significance at a MC-RG19 dose of 10 mg/kg. A dose of 5.6 mg/kg, which did not significantly decrease locomotion, significantly reduces cocaine-seeking behavior (active lever pressing) in response to the reintroduction of drug-paired cues after a period of extinction. No dose (3, 5.6, or 10 mg/kg) produced a significant effect on a multiple schedule of self-administration with alternating availability of sucrose and cocaine as the reinforcer. These results indicate that MC-RG19 has an effect on the incentive \u2014 motivational properties of reward-paired cues.

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  • 2018-05

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Effects of SWR-5 on cocaine self-administration and D3-mediated behavior

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The epidemic of drug addiction continues to grow at an alarming rate and cocaine-related overdoses have increased by more than 33% over the last decade. Cocaine targets the mesolimbic reward

The epidemic of drug addiction continues to grow at an alarming rate and cocaine-related overdoses have increased by more than 33% over the last decade. Cocaine targets the mesolimbic reward system in the brain to produce the “high” felt when taking cocaine. There is currently no single cure for psychostimulant abuse, but researchers continue to find viable therapeutic options. Dopamine receptors have been a recent target for researchers. We tested a novel D3R-antagonist, SWR-5, with 905-fold D3/D2 selectivity, on addiction using a rat self- administration model and hypothesized that it would reduce motivation for cocaine. SWR-5 significantly reduced cocaine intake on a high-effort PR schedule at a dose of 10 mg/kg but did not affect sucrose intake. Also, SWR-5 did not affect either spontaneous or cocaine-induced locomotion. From our results, we concluded that SWR-5 affects motivation for cocaine, not sucrose, and does not produce adverse locomotor effects. Further research would include taking a behavioral economics approach to determine the cost/benefit ratio of taking the drug, as well as performing cue reinstatement tests to solidify whether SWR-5 plays a role in cocaine-seeking behavior.

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  • 2020-05

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Dosage effects of highly selective D2 antagonist SV293 on drug-seeking behavior and locomotor activity

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Within the field of psychopharmacology, there has been difficultly with studying the functional effects of dopamine at the D2 receptor apart from other dopamine receptors due to the lack of

Within the field of psychopharmacology, there has been difficultly with studying the functional effects of dopamine at the D2 receptor apart from other dopamine receptors due to the lack of drugs that are selective for the D2 receptor. The purpose of this study was to observe the motivational and locomotor effects of using three varying doses (1.0, 3.0, and 5.6 mg/kg) of a new, highly selective D2 antagonist, SV293. These doses were tested across five different conditions that explore the effects of controls, SV293 by itself, and in combination with cocaine. These tests are designed to separately assess the effects of the antagonist between drug-seeking behaviors and locomotor activity. The cue tests showed that SV293 reduced drug-seeking and increased response latency at the high dose, suggesting a decrease in motivational effects of cocaine-related cues. SV293 alone also reduced drug-seeking and increased response latency at the high dose, suggesting a decrease in motivation for cocaine. Cocaine in combination with SV293 did not produce any significant effects on drug-seeking behavior, suggesting that SV293 did not alter the motivational effects of cocaine itself. Spontaneous locomotor activity tests with SV293 alone showed no reduction in locomotor activity; however, the addition of cocaine showed a significant decrease in locomotor activity at the high dose of SV293. Overall, the 5.6 mg/kg dose of SV293 decreases drug-seeking behavior elicited by cocaine-related cues and environmental stimuli, as well as cocaine-induced locomotor activity. This selective D2 antagonism could ultimately help elucidate the mechanisms of other dopamine receptors with particular emphasis on their involvement with drug addiction. Key words: cocaine, SV293, D2, antagonists, dopamine

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  • 2014-05

The Effect of Ovarian Hormonal Status on 5HT1B Receptor Modulation of Cocaine Self-Administration

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Cocaine is a powerful psychomotor stimulant that can affect serotonin (5HT), dopamine, and norepinephrine systems in the brain. Previous studies with 5HT1B receptor agonist, CP94253, have shown dose-dependent decreases in

Cocaine is a powerful psychomotor stimulant that can affect serotonin (5HT), dopamine, and norepinephrine systems in the brain. Previous studies with 5HT1B receptor agonist, CP94253, have shown dose-dependent decreases in cocaine-self administration in male rats during maintenance. However, these studies do not take into consideration sex differences between male rats and female rats. Female rats introduce a new complexity because they constantly undergo an estrous cycle that consists of four phases, metestrus, diestrus, proestrus, and estrus. It was hypothesized that cocaine infusions and active lever response rates would greatly decrease during proestrus and estrus in comparison to metestrus and diestrus due to hormonal level differences of LH, FSH, progesterone, and estradiol. In this study, female rats were trained to self-administer a training dose of 0.75 mg/kg/infusion on a fixed progressive ratio (FR5). Rats were then pretreated with CP94253 to test the effects of this 5HT1B agonist on female rat cocaine self-administration during the estrous cycle. Results showed there was no three-way interaction between cycle phase, pretreatment, and cocaine dose on infusions or active lever responses. However, pretreatment with CP94253 decreased cocaine intake and active lever responses at high cocaine doses, regardless of cycle phase. Lastly, there was a two-way interaction between pretreatment and cycle phase in which active lever responses decreased during diestrus and proestrus. These results imply that CP94253 enhances cocaine's effect regardless of cycle phase. Future work can work with ovariectomized (OVX) female rats to observe cocaine self-administration during controlled cycle phases.

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  • 2018-05

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D3 receptor related drugs MC-250041 and LS-3-134 and their effects on locomotor activity and motivation for cocaine

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Abstract Cocaine is highly addictive because it exacerbates the action responsible for creating the feeling of "reward," which is controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine receptors can be divided into

Abstract Cocaine is highly addictive because it exacerbates the action responsible for creating the feeling of "reward," which is controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine receptors can be divided into five subtypes: D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. The localization of D3 receptors is restricted to the mesolimbic pathway, which is often called the "reward pathway." This pathway is associated with emotions, motivation, and behavior. There is evidence that these receptors are upregulated in response to the repeated use of psychostimulants, such as cocaine, making these receptors a potential target for pharmaceutical therapeutics for drug addiction. In the present study, two compounds selective for D3 receptors, MC-250041 and LS-3-134, were examined for their effects on spontaneous and cocaine-primed locomotor activity. The present study also aimed to examine the effects of MC-250041 and LS-3-134 on the number of lever presses and infusions under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule when subjects are trained to self-administer cocaine within an operant conditioning chamber. Based on the present research on D3 receptor compounds and D3Rs, I hypothesized that pretreatment with MC-250041 or LS-3-134 decreases cocaine self-administration under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule of cocaine reinforcement at doses that would have no effect on locomotor activity. The results showed no significant effects on spontaneous or cocaine-primed locomotor activity following an injection of MC-250041 (1, 3, 5.6 mg/kg IP). Similarly, there was no change in the amount of lever presses or drug infusions within an operant conditioning chamber at any of the examined doses of MC-250041 (3, 5.6, 10 mg/kg IP) during self-administration. LS-3-134 decreased cocaine-primed locomotor activity, as well as lever presses and infusions during self-administration at the 5.6 mg/kg dose; however, there was no effect on spontaneous locomotor activity at any of the examined doses (1, 3.2, 5.6 mg/kg IP). In conclusion, the results of the study suggest that LS-3-134 effectively reduced motivation for cocaine at the 5.6 mg/kg dose; whereas, MC-250041 was unsuccessful at warranting any significant effect on motivation for cocaine at any of the examined doses.

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  • 2017-05

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Pharmacotherapeutic Potential of 5-HT1BR Agonists for Cocaine Use Disorders

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Cocaine use remains a prevalent problem, yet there are no effective pharmacological treatments against cocaine use disorders. Cocaine is known to affect serotonin neurotransmission in the brain. Previous data has

Cocaine use remains a prevalent problem, yet there are no effective pharmacological treatments against cocaine use disorders. Cocaine is known to affect serotonin neurotransmission in the brain. Previous data has shown the modulatory role of CP 94,253, a serotonin 1B receptor (5-HT1BR) agonist on cocaine self-administration at different periods of the use-abstinence-relapse cycle. CP 94,253 facilitates cocaine self-administration in rats during the use maintenance phase, where rats are receiving daily intake of cocaine, yet attenuates it after a period of abstinence, when drug delivery is discontinued and rats are placed in home cages. Here we study the therapeutic potential of 5-HT1BR agonist pre-treatment on cocaine self-administration during these different time periods. Male and free-cycling female rats were trained to lever-press for cocaine (0.75 mg/kg i.v.) or sucrose pellets, until they met stable performance for total number of infusions on a fixed ratio 5 schedule of reinforcement. Rats were then tested with either the FDA-approved but less selective 5-HT1BR agonist zolmitriptan (3, 5.6, and 10 mg/kg s.c.; in descending order) prior to a period of abstinence or the more selective 5-HT1BR agonist CP 94,253 (5.6 mg/kg s.c.) after a period of prolonged abstinence and relapse (i.e. resumption of daily cocaine self-administration after a period of abstinence). Each session ran for 2 hours during which the training dose was available for the 1st hour and a low dose of cocaine (0.075 mg/kg i.v.) for the 2nd hour. Zolmitriptan was found to attenuate cocaine self-administration measures at a dose of 3 and 5.6 mg/kg when testing at the low dose of cocaine and at all three doses (3, 5.6, and 10 mg/kg) when testing at the training dose of cocaine. Zolmitriptan at the doses effective at attenuating cocaine intake did not alter sucrose self-administration. CP 94,253 (5.6 mg/kg s.c.) was found to have significant attenuative effects on self-administration measures both after a period of prolonged abstinence and after a period of relapse. Overall, these experiments showed that zolmitriptan decreased cocaine reinforcement without altering sucrose reinforcement as well as that CP 94,253 attenuates cocaine intake even after a period of relapse. These findings support the therapeutic potential of 5-HT1BR agonists as pharmacological treatments for cocaine use disorders.

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  • 2020-05

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A Mouse Model of Serotonin 1B Receptor Modulation of Cocaine and Methamphetamine Craving

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Serotonin 1B receptors (5-HT1BRs) are a novel target for developing pharmacological therapies to reduce psychostimulant craving. 5-HT1BRs are expressed in the mesolimbic pathway projecting from the ventral tegmental area (VTA)

Serotonin 1B receptors (5-HT1BRs) are a novel target for developing pharmacological therapies to reduce psychostimulant craving. 5-HT1BRs are expressed in the mesolimbic pathway projecting from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which is involved in reward and motivation. 5-HT1BR agonists modulate both cocaine- and methamphetamine-seeking behaviors in rat models of psychostimulant craving. In this dissertation, I tested the central hypothesis that 5-HT1BRs regulate cocaine and methamphetamine stimulant and rewarding effects in mice. I injected mice daily with cocaine for 20 days and then tested them 20 days after their last injection. The results showed that the 5-HT1BR agonist CP94253 attenuated sensitization of cocaine-induced locomotion and cocaine-seeking behavior, measured as a decrease in the ability of a cocaine priming injection to reinstate extinguished cocaine-conditioned place preference (CPP). Subsequent experiments showed that CP94253 given prior to conditioning sessions had no effect on acquisition of methamphetamine-CPP, a measure of drug reward; however, CP94253 given prior to testing attenuated expression of methamphetamine-CPP, a measure of drug seeking. To examine brain regions and cell types involved in CP94253 attenuation of methamphetamine-seeking, I examined changes in the immediate early gene product, Fos, which is a marker of brain activity involving gene transcription changes. Mice expressing methamphetamine-CPP showed elevated Fos expression in the VTA and basolateral amygdala (BlA), and reduced Fos in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). In mice showing CP94253-induced attenuation of methamphetamine-CPP expression, Fos was increased in the VTA, NAc shell and core, and the dorsal medial caudate-putamen. CP94253 also reversed the methamphetamine-conditioned decrease in Fos expression in the CeA and the increase in the BlA. In drug-naïve, non-conditioned control mice, CP94253 only increased Fos in the CeA, suggesting that the increases observed in methamphetamine-conditioned mice were due to conditioning rather than an unconditioned effect of CP94253 on Fos expression. In conclusion, 5-HT1BR stimulation attenuates both cocaine and methamphetamine seeking in mice, and that the latter effect may involve normalizing activity in the amygdala and increasing activity in the mesolimbic pathway. These findings further support the potential efficacy of 5-HT1BR agonists as pharmacological interventions for psychostimulant craving in humans.

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  • 2018

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A mathematical model of dopamine neurotransmission

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Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter involved in attention, goal oriented behavior, movement, reward learning, and short term and working memory. For the past four decades, mathematical and computational modeling approaches

Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter involved in attention, goal oriented behavior, movement, reward learning, and short term and working memory. For the past four decades, mathematical and computational modeling approaches have been useful in DA research, and although every modeling approach has limitations, a model is an efficient way to generate and explore hypotheses. This work develops a model of DA dynamics in a representative, single DA neuron by integrating previous experimental, theoretical and computational research. The model consists of three compartments: the cytosol, the vesicles, and the extracellular space and forms the basis of a new mathematical paradigm for examining the dynamics of DA synthesis, storage, release and reuptake. The model can be driven by action potentials generated by any model of excitable membrane potential or even from experimentally induced depolarization voltage recordings. Here the model is forced by a previously published model of the excitable membrane of a mesencephalic DA neuron in order to study the biochemical processes involved in extracellular DA production. After demonstrating that the model exhibits realistic dynamics resembling those observed experimentally, the model is used to examine the functional changes in presynaptic mechanisms due to application of cocaine. Sensitivity analysis and numerical studies that focus on various possible mechanisms for the inhibition of DAT by cocaine provide insight for the complex interactions involved in DA dynamics. In particular, comparing numerical results for a mixed inhibition mechanism to those for competitive, non-competitive and uncompetitive inhibition mechanisms reveals many behavioral similarities for these different types of inhibition that depend on inhibition parameters and levels of cocaine. Placing experimental results within this context of mixed inhibition provides a possible explanation for the conflicting views of uptake inhibition mechanisms found in experimental neuroscience literature.

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  • 2012