I find addiction animal models interesting because addiction is one of the few disorders that can be induced in the animal with application of an addictive drug. There's no struggle to manipulate the animal to express certain behaviors seen in addiction. However, this seemingly holistic animal model is tarnished by the fact that multiple environmental factors have such a huge role in modulating addiction. Because of this, I was excited when I saw this week's papers were on addiction and I thought they played off each other well.
I preferred the paper from Vassoler et al. this week, mostly because I enjoy anything involving genetics. The methods and results were clear and convincing, and the fact that they were able to target the exact transcript that had increased acetylation, resulting in increased expression of BDNF of the mPFC of male CocSired was impressive. I felt like this discovery about cocaine addiction opened so many doors for research, especially regarding sex differences. Though sex differences were observed, the authors did not really speculate as to why this occurred. I would be interested to see if just increasing BDNF transcription in females would result in the same cocaine-resistant phenotype, or if castrating CocSired males would prevent it. Or maybe see if applying testosterone to females would increase BDNF expression. I would also be curious as to see the differences in BDNF transcription over development in both SalSired and CocSired males.
The Holly et al. paper was interesting because it touched on the topic of comorbidity in mental disorders and its differences between the sexes. Comorbidity is so common with mental illnesses like addiction and depression, so it was interesting to see the role of stress, a paradigm often associated with depression or anxiety, and its affect on addiction. The results seemed conclusive but I was left wanting to know more about the underlying mechanisms at play linking specific hormone levels to dopamine tone.
Looking at the two papers together, I would love to compare the DA levels of the CocSired male rats to normal and stressed males. It would be interesting to make an experiment to see if and how BDNF and DA expression may interact in the reward circuit and the differences between the sexes. It is clear that the mechanisms underlying cocaine addiction differ between the sexes which makes me believe that we should take different approaches to treating this disorder depending on the patient's sex (if doctors aren't already).