Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week 8

While this week’s papers didn’t capture my interest like the previous week’s papers on the gut-microbiome, I still enjoyed learning more about the behavioral effects of cocaine administration and sex differences in a cocaine-resistant phenotype. I’m excited to finally see some research using both female and male animals, as laboratory research has mainly used male animals until very recently. I personally preferred reading the Vassoler et. al paper; I found it is be particularly interesting because I’ve never encountered a paper examining the paternal line and its resulting behavioral effects on offspring. The results were a bit surprising; to my knowledge, human males are more susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction than women. Furthermore, severe exposure to drugs before or during pregnancy seems to produce a variety of behavioral effects in offspring and increase susceptibility to addiction. Therefore, the finding that cocaine-experienced male offspring (CocSired) had a protective advantage to cocaine self-administration was unexpected. The authors did acknowledge that the results are at odds with human data, which leads me to question the translatability of these experiments to human research. However, the fact that the researchers found the specific mechanism behind this increased protection (increased BNDF promoter acetylation in the sperm) was impressive and convincing.

I was underwhelmed by the results of the Holly et. al paper. I appreciate that the researchers were able to find a sex difference in socially stressed females and males when exposed to cocaine. However, I wish the researchers had elaborated on the different phases on the estrus cycle in regards to their results; I was not entirely convinced that estradiol was only involved in social-defeat behavioral sensitization and not the binge duration. Overall, I think this paper provides a promising foundation for further research regarding sex differences, cocaine exposure, and the estrogen/dopamine relationship.

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