The gene that regulates the bodys main biological clocks also may play a pivotal role in drug addiction, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.
The Clock gene not only controls the bodys circadian rhythms, including sleep and wakefulness, body temperature, hormone levels, blood pressure and heart activity, it may also be a key regulator of the brains reward system.
UT Southwestern researchers showed that, in mice, the Clock gene regulates the reward response to cocaine, suggesting that similar actions take place in humans. Findings from the multi-center study are available online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We found that the Clock gene is not only involved in regulating sleep/wake cycles, but is also very involved in regulating the rewarding responses to drugs of abuse," said Dr. Colleen A. McClung, assistant instructor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and the studys lead author. "It does so through its actions on dopamine pathways."
Donna Steph Hansard | EurekAlert!
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