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Séminaire - Marcello SolinasPersistent risks of relapse to addiction : from Environmental Enrichment to Pharmalogical treaments

Abstract :

One of the most difficult aspects in addiction therapy is relapse occurring after long periods of abstinence. As a matter of fact, the rates of relapse are very high and can occur even after several months from the last drug-taking episodes when acute withdrawal symptoms are no more present. Although a great deal of information has been collected on the psychological, neurobiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms of drug addiction, effective therapies for addiction are still very limited. Thus, the discovery of new pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies to reduce risks of relapse is a pressing necessity.

In a series of studies, we demonstrated that a simple environmental manipulation such as housing rodents in enriched environments (EE) greatly reduces the risks of relapse to cocaine (Solinas et al., 2008; Chauvet et al., 2009; Chauvet et al., 2012) and other drugs (unpublished results).  Interestingly, the effects of EE are not long lasting and they disappear when EE is discontinued (Chauvet et al., 2012) suggesting that EE acts as a brake on drug seeking behavior but it does not erase drug-induced neuroadaptations and memories.

More recently, in the attempt to find molecules that mimic the effects of EE (so-called “environmimetics”), we discovered that chronic pharmacological treatment with statins, drugs widely used in humans to reduce blood cholesterol, reduces drug seeking for cocaine and nicotine and may represent novel anti-relapse medications with few adverse effects.

Selected publications

  1.  Solinas M, Chauvet C, Thiriet N, El Rawas R, and Jaber M. (2008)Reversal of cocaine addiction by environmental enrichment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 105(44):17145-50.
  2. Chauvet C, Lardeux, V Goldberg SR, Jaber M, Solinas M (2009) Environmental enrichment reduces cocaine seeking and reinstatement induced by cues and stress but not by cocaine. Neuropsychopharmacology. 34(13):2767-78.
  3. Chauvet C, Lardeux V, Jaber M, Solinas M. (2011) Brain regions associated with the reversal of cocaine conditioned place preference by environmental enrichment. Neuroscience. 184:88-96.
  4. Chauvet C, Goldberg SR, Jaber M, Solinas M. (2012) Effects of environmental enrichment on the incubation of cocaine craving. Neuropharmacology. 63(4):635-41.
  5. Chauvet C, Nicolas C, Lafay-Chebassier C, Jaber M, Thiriet N, Solinas M (2015) Statins Reduce the Risks of Relapse to Addiction in Rats. Chauvet C, Nicolas C, Lafay-Chebassier C, Jaber M, Thiriet N, Solinas M (2016) Statins Reduce the Risks of Relapse to Addiction in Rats. Neuropsychopharmacology.41(6):1588-97. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.31
  1. Solinas M, Goldberg SR, Piomelli D. (2008) The endogenous cannabinoid system and brain reward processes. British Journal of Pharmacology. 154: 369-383. Review Article