Nanotherapeutic Approach for Opiate Addiction Using DARPP-32 Gene Silencing in an Animal Model of Opiate Addiction

T. A. Ignatowski, R. Aalinkeel, J. L. Reynolds, B. B. Nair, D. E. Sykes, C. P.K. Gleason, Wing Cheung Law, M. J. Mammen, P. N. Prasad, S. A. Schwartz, Supriya D. Mahajan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Opiates act on the dopaminergic system of the brain and perturb 32 kDa dopamine and adenosine 3′, 5′-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein (DARPP-32) function. The DARPP-32 mediated inhibition of protein phosphatase-1 (PP-1) and modulation of transcriptional factor CREB is critical to the changes in neuronal plasticity that result in behavioral responses during drug abuse. To investigate the role of DARPP-32 mediated signaling on withdrawal behavior in a rat model of opiate addiction, we used intracerebral administration of gold nanorods (GNR) complexed to DARPP-32 siRNA to silence DARPP-32 gene expression and measure its effects on the opiate withdrawal syndrome. We hypothesized that DARPP-32 siRNA will suppress the neurochemical changes underlying the withdrawal syndrome and therefore prevent conditioned place aversion by suppressing or removing the constellation of negative effects associated with withdrawal, during the conditioning procedure. Our results showed that opiate addicted animals treated with GNR-DARPP-32 siRNA nanoplex showed lack of condition place aversive behavior consequent to the downregulation of secondary effectors such as PP-1 and CREB which modify transcriptional gene regulation and consequently neuronal plasticity. Thus, nanotechnology based delivery systems could allow sustained knockdown of DARPP-32 gene expression which could be developed into a therapeutic intervention for treating drug addiction by altering reward and motivational systems and interfere with conditioned responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-152
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of NeuroImmune Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral response
  • Condition place preference (CPP)
  • DARPP-32
  • Gold nanorods (GNR)
  • Morphine
  • Nanotherapy
  • Opiate addiction
  • Periaqueductal gray area (PAG)
  • Ventral Tegmental area (VTA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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