This research tested the hypothesis that increasing the levels of neuropeptide Y (a peptide neuromodulator) in the brain will reduce anxiety and craving for cocaine.
Cocaine use and dependence exact a toll on the individual user and the community at large because cocaine-driven behavior is associated with a wide range of economic, biomedical, and social problems (e.g., crime, spread of disease, and neonatal drug exposure). Currently there are no recommended drug therapies for cocaine dependence. This research tested the hypothesis that enhancing neuropeptide Y (NPY, a neurotransmitter) activity in the central nervous system will reduce heightened anxiety and cocaine-craving associated with short and long periods of abstinence from cocaine in an animal model of cocaine dependence. In particular, the ability of NPY agonists to reduce cue- and stress-induced cocaine seeking will be examined. The results will add to our understanding of the neurobiological substrates that underlie cocaine dependence and determine if the pursuit of medicinal compounds to enhance the activity of NPY in the brain in the treatment of cocaine dependence is warranted. Dr. Alexis Thompson’s co-investigator on the study was Dr. Jean DiPirro of Buffalo State College. Funded by a grant of $1,582,306 from NIDA, 2006-2012.