August 12, 2016
1 min read

NIH-funded research explores role of hormone levels in female addiction

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A 3-year grant from the NIH will fund research assessing if fluctuating hormone levels influence women’s risk for addiction.

“Compared to men, women experience higher levels of craving and relapse during periods of abstinence and take larger amounts of cocaine during bouts of relapse,” study researcher Linda Perrotti, MPhil, PhD, of the University of Texas, Arlington, said in a press release. “Our study on hormonal effects could lead to customizable and differentiated addiction treatment and prevention measures for men, women, women on hormone-based birth control, post-menopausal women and women on hormone replacement therapy.”

Linda Perrotti, MPhil, PhD

Linda Perrotti

Perrotti received $413,970 over 3 years from the NIH to conduct biomolecular research on how changing hormone levels affect women’s sensitivity to reward processing and, as a result, cocaine addiction.

Preclinical research from Perrotti and colleagues indicated female rodents who received hormone treatment preferred higher doses of cocaine.

Further research will use rodent models to assess three specific molecules associated with drug addiction and reward, including extracellular signal-related kinase, the FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (FosB) protein, and the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) protein.

“Historically, most biomedical models have been based on men but it is increasingly clear that what we know about addiction in men does not always hold up in women,” Perry N. Fuchs, PhD, said in the release. “Dr. Perrotti’s research could provide essential insights to improve the quality of treatment given to women suffering from drug addiction.”