Browsing by Subject "addiction"

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  • Thorgeirsson, T. E.; Gudbjartsson, D. F.; Sulem, P.; Besenbacher, S.; Styrkarsdottir, U.; Thorleifsson, G.; Walters, G. B.; Furberg, H.; Sullivan, P. F.; Marchini, J.; McCarthy, M. I.; Steinthorsdottir, V.; Thorsteinsdottir, U.; Stefansson, K.; TAG Consortium; Oxford-GSK Consortium; ENGAGE Consortium; Kaprio, Jaakko; Tuomilehto, Jaakko; Shen, Huei-Yi (2013)
  • Herkkola, Hennariia (Helsingfors universitet, 2018)
    The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is located in the ventral striatum and plays a critical role in drug addiction. NAc receives dopaminergic projections from ventral tegmental area (VTA) which is activated after administration of various abused drugs. Activation of VTA increases the release of dopamine in NAc. Increased dopamine levels induce the release of acetylcholine from striatal cholinergic interneurons. These cholinergic interneurons have been related to the development of addiction and other emotion-related disorders such as depression. Previous studies have shown that a lesion of cholinergic interneurons led to an increase in morphine-induced conditioned place preference in mice. Moreover, an activation of cholinergic interneurons by designer receptors (DREADD) has reduced food consumption motivated by food restriction. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether accumbal cholinergic interneurons mediate alcohol- and morphine-induced conditioned place preference and locomotor activity. The activation of cholinergic interneurons was controlled using DREADD (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) technology. DREADDs are G protein-coupled receptors. Cellular function and activation can be modulated by these receptors. DREADDs are activated by an otherwise inert synthetic ligand, clozapine-N-oxide (CNO). Fluorescent protein, mCherry, is attached to DREADDs so that the expression of receptors in brain tissue can be observed. Cre-spesific adeno-associated viruses (AAV) with DREADD gene were injected bilaterally to the nucleus accumbens of ChATcre mice in stereotactic surgery. The effects of alcohol and morphine were tested with conditioned place preference procedure. Mice were divided to three groups after DREADDs: activating receptor Gq (n = 10), inhibiting receptor Gi (n = 9) and control mC (n = 9). There were both male and female mice in every group. Alcohol did not induce conditioned place preference in any group. The locomotor activity of mice significantly increased after alcohol injection compared to saline injection. However, cholinergic interneurons had no effect on the increased locomotor activity. Morphine-induced conditioned place preference was expressed in every group but there were no significant differences between DREADDs and control group when the first 15 minutes and the whole 30 minutes of the place preference test was analysed. Though, Gq-receptor seemed to decrease the place preference compared to control group when the place preference test was observed in five minute intervals. Morphine also significantly increased the locomotor activity of mice, but there were no differences between the groups. Sex had no influence on the place preference, but female mice were more active than male mice during the alcohol conditioning and the alcohol place preference test. The locomotor activity of female mice also increased more than the activity of male mice after morphine injection. The effect of accumbal cholinergic interneurons on alcohol-induced conditioned place preference remained unclear. Activation of cholinergic interneurons suppressed morphine-induced conditioned place preference compared to control group but not enough so that the effect could be seen during the whole place preference test. The mice were same in the morphine test as in the alcohol test so the mice were conditioned to alcohol before morphine and therefore the results of morphine-induced conditioned place preference are not reliable.
  • Vehma, Santeri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Nucleus accumbens, located in ventral striatum, is an important part of the brain reward system. Accumbens integrates information coming from various brain areas, and it’s important for feeling pleasure, reward learning and reward seeking, including drugs of abuse. Cholinergic interneurons represent a few percent of accumbal cells. Earlier research suggests that accumbal cholinergic activity decreases drug seeking and eating. The aim of this study was to examine the role of cholinergic interneuron activity in alcohol drinking and alcohol related locomotor activity. Cholinergic interneurons (ChI) were manipulated using DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs), which can be selectively activated with clozapine-n-oxide (CNO). To express DREADDs selectively in ChIs, a cre-dependent viral vector that contained a gene coding for a cell-activating hM3D(Gq)-mCherry (n=9), cell-inhibiting hM4D(Gi)-mCherry (n=9), or control mCherry(n=8), was injected to nucleus accumbens of ChAT-cre- mice. Alcohol drinking was measured using Drinking In the Dark (DID)- model. Three hours after lights-out, the water bottles were replaced with 20% alcohol for two hours, for three days. On the fourth day, mice were injected with CNO or vehicle and alcohol was given for four hours. These cycles were repeated six times. In the locomotor assay, mice were injected with CNO or vehicle, followed by injection of alcohol or saline. Locomotor activity of the mice was observed for 30 minutes. In the DID- assay, the DREADD ligand CNO did not have effects on alcohol drinking within any of the three groups. However, Gi- mice drank more alcohol than Gq-mice even without the presence of CNO. These results are not reliable enough to draw conclusions, as they were confounded by unusually low drinking volumes. In the locomotor assay, CNO alone did not affect locomotion in any group. Together with alcohol, however, CNO decreased locomotion in all three groups, compared to alcohol alone. This is consistent with recent reports suggesting that CNO may have nonspecific behavioral effects.
  • Törrönen, Essi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) is one of the the most prevalent synthetic cathinones that bears close structural similarity to amphetamines. Like other stimulants, mephedrone is often used with alcohol (ethanol). In animal studies ethanol has been observed to potentiate the neurotoxicity of amphetamine-type stimulants, and same has been observed when mephedrone and alcohol is combined. The long-term effects of mephedrone have still remained largely elusive. The aim of this thesis is to study the effects of mephedrone, methamphetamine, and ethanol on dendritic spine density and morphology in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and caudate putamen, and compare the spine densities with changes in brain activation observed in manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Dendritic spines are small membranous protrusions on dendrites that act as the post-synaptic sites for most of the excitatory synapses. Amphetamine and methamphetamine have been shown to affect the density and morphology of the spines. The goal of this thesis was to investigate the long-term effect of binge-like (two times a day, four consecutive days) stimulant treatment on dendritic spines using Golgi-stained rat brain sections. The brains of 48 male Wistar rats were imaged using AxioImager Z2 microscope and the number and the size of the spines was analyzed using Reconstruct software. In this thesis no effect on dendritic spines was observed in the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in animals treated with mephedrone, methamphetamine, ethanol or combination of them. In the caudate putamen significant increase in the total density of dendritic spines and in the density of filopodia-like spines was observed in mephedrone-treated animals. Other treatments showed no observable effect. These results were conflicting with previous studies where amphetamine-type stimulants have been shown to increase the spine density in the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus and increase the density of branched spines. In the caudate putamen methamphetamine has been observed to decrease the spine density. There was no correlation between spine densities and brain activation observed in MEMRI. To my best knowledge this is the first time when the effect of mephedrone on dendritic spines has been studied. It is possible that the treatment regimen used here was not strong enough to produce marked long-term changes on dendritic spines. It is also possible, that mephedrone is not as neurotoxic as other amphetamine-type stimulants, which may explain why the effects remained limited and conflicting. More research is still required to establish the long-term structural effects of mephedrone.
  • Schäfer, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    ABSTRACT The insular cortex (insula) was recently identified as key neuroanatomical substrate underlying the neurocircuitry of addiction, and a rapidly growing body of evidence ascribe it numerous functional roles in addiction-related behaviours. Yet, neural system interactions through which the insula establishes its roles remain largely unknown. Identifying these critical circuits lays the foundation for the successful advancement of addiction research and therapeutics targeting this brain area. To this end, the current set of experiments aimed to characterize the efferent connections of the anterior insula (AI) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc; AI --> NAc) and the basolateral amygdala (BLA; AI --> BLA); two subcortical regions, which are heavily implicated in reward, motivational and emotional processing. By chemogenetically manipulating the activity of these circuits, their functional roles in modulating alcohol self-administration in alcohol-preferring AA (Alko, Alcohol) rats were examined. While AI --> NAc projections were recently verified anatomically, we first confirmed connectivity of AI --> BLA by injecting a viral retrograde tracer encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) unilaterally into the BLA of AA rats. The functional role of the AI --> BLA and AI --> NAc pathways in mediating alcohol drinking was examined by using the intermittent two-bottle choice paradigm in combination with a Cre-dependent DREADD (Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drug) approach. Projection-specific DREADD expression was achieved by injecting a Cre-dependent viral DREADD vector into the AI while a retrograde virus carrying Cre-recombinase was injected either into the BLA or NAc. CNO-induced activation of the AI --> NAc circuit resulted in a significant increase in alcohol consumption. Curiously, silencing these projections had no effect, either reflecting the intrinsic nature of the NAc circuitry or limitations inherent in the technical approach. Neither chemogenetic silencing nor activation of the AI --> BLA circuit altered alcohol consumption. Furthermore, no changes were observed in the control groups upon systemic CNO administration, indicating no unspecific CNO effects. The current body of work provides new insights into the insula-related circuitry showing that the activity of the AI --> NAc circuit drives alcohol self-administration, whereas AI --> BLA projections are not recruited during this behaviour. This indicates that the insular-striatal circuit belongs to the forebrain neurocircuitry underlying alcohol drinking. The study should be pursued by characterizing the neuronal populations and specific neuronal receptor populations that are involved in the AI --> NAc circuit. Future research should examine other insular-centred circuits that may govern alcohol drinking.
  • Järvi, Vilja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The insular cortex has been implicated in the neurocircuitry underlying alcohol addiction. The role of the insular cortex and its projections in regulating ethanol intake in AA (Alko-Alcohol) rats has been studied using chemogenetic tools. Chemogenetic activation of the anterior agranular insula (aAI) in AA rats through excitatory DREADDs expressed in the aAI has been found to decrease ethanol consumption. The aAI projects to the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), another brain region involved in the development of addiction, particularly in the withdrawal/negative affect stage. In the current study, we sought to further investigate the role of the aAI and the CeA in regulating voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. First, we characterized the efferent projections of the aAI in AA rats by chemogenetically activating the aAI with DREADDs and then measuring c-Fos expression in various regions of interest throughout the brain. Next, we investigated the role of the aAI --> CeA projection in ethanol intake by chemogenetically activating or inhibiting the aAI --> CeA projection using the dual viral Cre-dependent DREADD approach. We examined the effects of this manipulation on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats in a two-bottle choice paradigm. Finally, we examined the roles of CeA D1Rs (dopamine receptors) and 5-HT2ARs (serotonin receptors) in regulating ethanol intake by examining the effects of pharmacological agonism or antagonism of these receptors on voluntary ethanol consumption in AA rats. Our results from the first experiment reveal significant activation of brain regions including the posterior agranular insula, the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, and the posterior piriform cortex following chemogenetic activation of the aAI. The projections from the aAI to these regions are potentially important in the aAI circuitry in AA rats and are therefore of interest in future studies on the role of aAI circuitry in ethanol intake. In the second experiment, we found no significant effects of aAI --> CeA projection activation or inhibition on ethanol consumption in AA rats, indicating that this projection may not be a key component in regulating ethanol intake in these rats. Finally, we found no significant effects of pharmacological D1R antagonism, 5-HT2AR antagonism, or 5-HT2AR agonism in the CeA on ethanol intake in AA rats, although there was a non-significant trend towards a dose-dependent decrease in ethanol consumption with increasing dose of the D1R antagonist. Our results reveal new neural projections that should be investigated in future research on the role of the aAI in regulating ethanol intake. Studies on the neurobiology underlying alcoholism may reveal new pharmacological or anatomical targets for treatments of alcoholism in humans.
  • Lundahl, Outi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Moral panics are instances of public anxiety in response to a problem regarded as threatening the moral standards of society. Extant literature on moral panics has then tended to focus on individual deviants. In contrast, this study focuses on a moral panic where the morally objectionable actor is an entire industry which is portrayed as having intentionally manufactured the societal problem for their own personal gain. Thus, this study investigates how does the media create a moral panic around an industry? The context of this study is social media addiction. In order to answer this research question, a longitudinal, mixed methods media analysis of British newspapers in 2015–2019 is conducted. The constructivist media frame analysis then shows that while previously social media addiction was seen as an individual disorder, media then framed social media addiction as a manufactured epidemic. Thus, the study shows that a moral panic around social media addiction was created and that there were increased calls for regulation of the industry. However, it also that as these calls were seen as being responded to by the government, the moral panic dissipated. In addition, an automated text mining analysis also shows that, contrary to extant literature, the media framing does not rely on increasingly emotional rhetoric. The study then firstly contributes to extant literature on moral panics by showing how an industry, instead of groups of individuals, can become seen as the “folk devil”. This happens through powerful metaphors which are formed around social media companies. This can have considerable implications for the industry as even if this particular moral panic around social media addiction may remain short-lived, it may prove to be only one wave in the so-called spiral of signification, in other words, the increasing anxiety towards the social media industry. Secondly, the study also contributes to the understanding of emotions in a moral panic by showing that moral panics do not necessitate increased emotional rhetoric in the media framing. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of the recent public policy measures in the UK.
  • Kinnunen, Marja (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    Histamine is a monoamine structured signal molecule, which takes part in many functions of living organisms. It was first found in brain approximately 70 years ago. Neuronal histamine regulates for example biological rhythms, energy metabolism and thermoregulation. In the 1980's, H3-receptor was recognized in the brain. Neuronal histamine regulates functions of other transmitters for example gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamate, acetylcholine, noradrenaline and dopamine. Currently, the interactions of histamine and dopamine are not well characterized. Though, it is known that histaminergic fibers innerviate almost every dopaminergic area of the brain. There are also several H3-receptors in the striatum and in the limbic system. These brain areas are important for the rewarding effect of dopamine. The aim of the experimental part of this Master's thesis was to examine the location of histaminergic and dopaminergic nervous systems in mouse brain by using immunohistochemistry. Primary antibodies that were produced in rabbit (anti-histamine (HA)) and in mouse (anti-tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)), and secondary anti-rabbit and anti-mouse anti-bodies, that were produced in goat and conjugated with fluorophores, were used in the study. The samples were imaged with a confocal microscope. The primary aim was to find out, in which addiction related brain areas, histamine and dopamine cells and fibers are located and how they are situated in relation to each other. H3-receptor antagonists have been shown to decrease the consumption and rewarding effect of alcohol in animal models. Therefore, it was examined if non-imidazole structured H3-receptor antagonist also inhibits the rewarding effect of amphetamine, and if it decreases the locomotor activity induced by amphetamine. JNJ-39220675, a neutral antagonist of H3-receptor, and behavioral paradigm of conditioned place preference (CPP) were used in the experiment. CPP was also used to find out if D2-receptor agonist quinpirole cause reward or aversion. The effect of JNJ-39220675 on quinpirole's place preference and change in locomotor activity was also investigated. The interactions of these two pharmacological ligands were also examined in a separate locomotor activity experiment. C57BL/6J mice were used in all experiments. The results show that there are possible synaptic connections of histaminergic and dopaminergic system in substantia nigra, supramammillary nucleus, dorsomedial hypothalamic area and ventral periaqueductal grey area. Also, histaminergic nerve fibers innerviate to the dorsal striatum, which regulates motor functions, and to the ventral striatum, which is a part of the rewarding system of the brain. Hence, it is possible that histamine regulates the actions of dopa-mine in these brain areas. The behavioral experiments showed that JNJ-39220675 inhibits acutely increased locomotor activity caused by amphetamine, and decreases desensitation of decreased locomotor action caused by repeated dose of quinpirole. However, JNJ-39220675 did not have any effect on the rewarding effect of amphetamine, which causes strong sensitization. Also, JNJ-39220675 did not have an effect on quinpirole's aversive action. It remains to be seen, if H3-receptor is a potential target for new medicines in the treatment of different brain diseases and addiction in the future.
  • Kuhlefelt, Alexandra (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    When considering addiction research over the last three decades the insula has been of particular interest. The insula is responsible for interoception, the process of integrating peripheral information with higher awareness. It has been suggested that addiction could be cured or remedied by manipulating the insular cortex. The aim of this study was to develop a protocol to examine connections of a specific brain area. Following this, the protocol was then applied to identify which specific brain areas the anterior insular cortex activates. Thus, providing a better understanding of the role the insula plays in addiction. The anterior insular cortex was initially activated ipsilaterally with DREADDs in AA-rats (Alko, Alcohol) and then labeled using free-floating brain section immunofluorescence labeling protocol. Activation was subsequently compared between ipsilateral and contralateral sides on fluorescence pictures where single neurons were identified. The study identified thirteen (13) statistically significant activated brain areas. On the basis of these findings, the data suggests that the protocol was successful and the insula has broad connections. However, more research is required in order to better understand the insula.
  • Ojala, Katja (Helsingfors universitet, 2010)
    Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glutamatergic neurotransmission plays a central role in the development and maintenance of drug addiction. Glutamate interacts with other neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the actions concerning addiction. During the development of drug addiction, plastic changes in the neuronal connections related to memory and learning occur for example in the amount of synapses and in the efficacy of their action. Glutamatergic AMPA receptor and especially its GluA1 subunit are thought to be included in the neurobiological mechanisms related to drug addiction. Compulsive drug craving and relapses to drug use after a period of abstinence are central problems among people suffering drug addiction. Conditioned place preference is a technique that is used to study motivational properties of drugs in experimental animals. The aim of this master's thesis was to examine the importance of glutamatergic AMPA receptor GluA1 subunit in the morphine-induced place preference and in its extinction and reinstatement behaviour. Locomotor activity of mice was studied during all the phases of experiment. Glutamatergic AMPA receptor GluA1 subunit-deficient (GluA1-/-) and their control (wildtype) mice, based on C57BL/6J mouse strain, were used in the experiments. During the conditioning phase, the mice were trained to associate the effects of morphine (20 mg/kg) with a specific environment. After conditioning, the extinction with morphine paired conditioning environment was assessed by giving saline (0,9 % NaCl solution) to mice. The extinction phase was followed by reinstatement test, in which mice were given morphine (20 mg/kg). The seeking of animals with morphine paired conditioning environment described drug-seeking during different phases of experiment. GluA1-/- mice were more hyperactive when placed in the testing environment compared to the wildtype mice. However, the morphine-induced locomotor activity did not differ between genotypes. Locomotor activity of both genotypes was sensitized equally in consequence of repeated morphine exposures. Morphine induced place preference in both genotypes. Furthermore, the extinction of morphine place preference happened in both genotypes. However, the results of reinstatement test differed partly between genotypes. The place preference was reinstated by morphine in wildtype mice, but not in GluA1-/- mice, when using repeated testing extinction method. Instead of place preference, wildtype mice exhibited place aversion, when extinction method was saline conditioning. As a result of these experiments, extinction method can have an impact on the results of reinstatement test and conclusions cannot be done on the importance of GluA1 subunit in morphine reinstatement. In conclusion, the results of place preference experiments support the conception that GluA1 subunit is not significant in morphine conditioning. However, based on these experiments, GluA1 subunit is not important in morphine extinction, as one might assume on the basis of literature. GluA1 subunit may have an importance in morphine reinstatement, although the results of reinstatement test were partly contradictory.
  • Meijer, Juri (Helsingfors universitet, 2012)
    Smoking is one of the major causes for premature deaths worldwide. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which activates the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) expressed by the human body. nAChRs are part of the cholinergic system and its endogenous neurotransmitter is acetylcholine. The nAChRs are excitatory and the often regulate the release of other neurotransmitters. Nicotine is one of the most addicting compounds known. The rewarding effects of nicotine are mediated through the activation of the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. The mesolimbic pathway is triggered also by the compounds activating the endogenous opioid system thus mediating the rewarding effects and opioid addiction. The nicotine - opioid interactions have been widely studied. It is observed that majority of opioid abusers and patients receiving opioid replacement therapy are smokers. It has been also detected that nicotine releases endogenous opioid peptides in vivo in the brain regions mediating both addiction and analgesia. In addition, the rewarding effect of nicotine attenuates in opioid receptor knock-out rodents. Furthermore, it has been observed that nicotine's rewarding effects can be reduced with opioid receptor antagonists. In order to prevent smoking's negative effects the use opioid antagonists for smoking cessation has been clinically researched with poor results. Many of the opioids in clinical use have diverse and direct interaction with the nAChRs in vitro. E.g. it has been observed that methadone and morphine have an effect on the function of the nAChRs. This may explain partially the smoking behaviour of replacement therapy patients. Opioids are prescribed mainly for the treatment of moderate to intense pain. Nicotine is too found to be analgesic in vivo but in humans its analgesic effect has been questionable. In the experimental part of thesis binding and functional interactions with human's α4β2-nAChR expressed by SH-EP1-hα4β2 cell line was researched with clinically commonly used opioids codeine, oxycodone and tramadol. Competitive binding was studied using [3H]-epibatidine binding assay and the functional effects were studied using 86Rb+-efflux assay. The results suggest that oxycodone and tramadol act as weak competitive antagonists of α4β2-nAChR in vitro in concentrations that are clinically irrelevant. According to the results, however, codeine acts as positive allosteric modulator of α4β2-nAChR potentiating the effects of nicotine in micromolar concentrations. The effect is similar to galantamine, used in treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The clinical relevance of codeine's potentiating nicotine's effect on the function of α4β2-nAChR cannot be estimated according to the results from these studies. Therefore, in order to confirm the results experiments with codeine need to be done in vivo using e.g. α4- and β2-knock-out mice in order to clarify α4β2-nAChR's role in the analgesic and rewarding effects of codeine. However, the results from the experimental part provide valuable information on the interactions of nicotine and opioids. Results from studies conducted with α4β2-nAChRs have not been published enough to determine the importance of the phenomenon in i.a. drug addiction and analgesia.
  • Shekarchizadeh, Hajar; Ekhtiari, Hamed; Khami, Mohammad R.; Virtanen, Jorma I. (2012)
  • Orsolini, Laura; Rojnic Palavra, Irena; Papanti, Gabriele Duccio; Potocan, Matej; Quattrone, Diego; Martens, Matis; Sklenarova, Sandra; Levola, Jonna; Grichy, Leslie; Naughton, Sean; Grineviciene, Indre Kotryna; Kuiters, Jelly Petra; Gondek, Tomasz M.; Panfil, Anca-Livia; Borovcanin, Milica M.; San Roman Uria, Alberto; Biskup, Ewelina; Sonmez Gungor, Ekin; Casanova Dias, Marisa; Tomori, Sonila; Banjac, Visnja; Marinova-Djambazova, Petra; Pinto da Costa, Mariana (2021)
    Background: Although psychoactive substance use disorders (PSUDs) are a domain of mental health, addiction psychiatry is only formally recognized as a subspecialty in a few European countries, and there is no standardized training curriculum. Methods: A 76-item questionnaire was developed and disseminated through an online anonymous data-collecting system and hand-to-hand amongst psychiatric trainees from the 47 European countries of the Council of Europe plus Israel and Belarus. Results: 1,049/1,118 psychiatric trainees from 30 European countries completed the questionnaire. Fifty-nine-point nine percent of trainees stated to have training in addictions. Amongst the trainees who described having training in addictions, 43% documented a not well-structured training and 37% an unsatisfactory training, mainly due to poor acquired knowledge. Overall, 97% of trainees stated that addiction represents a core curriculum for their training. Overall, general adult psychiatric trainees reported a better knowledge in addictions, compared to trainees in child and adolescent psychiatry. Conclusion: Despite a growing spread of PSUDs in European countries, addiction psychiatry is a relatively poorly trained field within psychiatry training programs. Further research should investigate reasons for poor training and timings of the educational activities to optimize experiential education training in addiction psychiatry.
  • Elsilä, Lauri (Helsingfors universitet, 2018)
    The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is currently widely studied due to its impact in the anxiety-, stress-, and fearrelated behaviours, as well as in addiction. The BNST is highly heterogeneous brain area constituting of set of subnuclei and a variety of neuron populations, properties of which have only partially been revealed by the earlier research. One of the neuron populations, on which only a very little research has been conducted, is the somatostatin (Sst) expressing neurons, highly abundant in the anterodorsal part of the BNST (adBNST), especially in oval and juxtacapsular nuclei of the BNST. This work aims to elucidate the connectivity of this Sst-neuron population, and their role in the behaviours related to BNST activation, particularly the anxiety-, reward-, and drug withdrawal-related behaviours. To specifically study the somatostatin neuron population in the adBNST, I targeted the neurons using stereotaxic delivery of AAV-vectors encoding a myristylated green fluorescent protein (GFP) for neuronal tracing to Sst-Cre-tdTomato reporter line mice (n=2), and Cre-inducible hM3Dq-DREADDs to Sst-IRES-Cre mice (n=21), with Cre-inducible mCherry fluorescent protein as a control (n=20). The mice were treated with activation-inducing 1.0 mg/kg i.p. clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) 30 min prior to the behavioural tests. To assess acute anxiety-like behaviour, I used the elevated-plus maze paradigm and a modified open field test, in which a novel object is introduced to the arena in the middle of the trial. To study the potential effect on reward-associated behaviours, I used the biased conditioned place preference (CPP) test, and for the withdrawal-linked behaviours, we used a method to precipitate the withdrawal symptoms with naltrexone in subchronically morphine-treated mice (n=9 hM3Dq, n=8 control). The neuronal tracing revealed that the adBNST Sst-neurons project to areas known to partake in stress and fear reactions as well as in autonomic and homeostatic control. Namely, projections were seen in medial and central amygdaloidal nuclei, lateral hypothalamus, periaqueductal grey, ventral pallidum, and parabrachial nucleus. In the elevated-plus maze, the CNO-induced activation of the Sst-neurons did not have any effect on the locomotor activity of the mice between the groups. At the same time, Sst activation did not seem to have any significant effect on the time the mice spent in the open arms, nor in the exploratory activities, like the frequency of the head dips or the stretch-attend postures. In line with these results, no effect on the movement between the groups was observed in the open field test. Similarly, no differences in anxiety-related behaviours, like in the time spent in the centre of the arena or in the number of contacts with the novel object during the last phase of the test, were observed. The CPP test failed to show any meaningful rewarding or aversive properties of CNO-induced activation of the Sst-neurons, while the movement rates of the groups during the conditioning trials were not different in statistically significant way. As for the withdrawal symptoms, all the mice showed the predetermined symptoms, but the test failed to show any differences between the study groups. The neuronal tracing revealed connectivity for the adBNST Sst-neurons with brain regions involved in fear- and anxiety behaviour, social encounters, and autonomic control. In spite of this, the CNO-induced chemogenetic activation of the adBNST Sst-neurons failed to show any significant behavioural effects in the chosen paradigms for anxiety-, and reward-related behaviours, and for withdrawal symptoms. Further research is needed to dissect the Sst-subcircuitry of adBNST, both in order to verify the observed output regions, and to elucidate the role these neurons play in modification of behavioural phenotypes.
  • Harkki, Juliana Sade Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Background: Alcohol dependence is a chronic severe substance use disorder that has devastating personal and public health consequences. The efficacy of the current pharmacotherapy options for the treatment of alcohol dependence are modest at best, therefore better alternatives are greatly needed. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has shown promise in treatment of alcohol dependence in several clinical trials. A sigle high dose of LSD has been suggested to have a treatment effect that last for at least six months, indicating a remarkably better efficacy than the currently available methods. LSD itself has been reported to have a low addiction potential. In mouse models, acute LSD has been demonstrated to reduce ethanol consumption. Yet, the mechanism of action behind these effects has remained largely unknown. LSD is an agonist of serotonin’s 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors which have been shown to modulate the dopaminergic activity of the reward circuitry, a crucial brain area in the initiation of addiction. Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) is a procedure for a quantitative assessment of reward behavior in animal models. In ICSS, laboratory rodents self-administer electric stimulation to the dopaminergic pathways of the reward circuitry inducing a reinforcing effect similar to drug reward. Aim: The aim of the current body of work was to use ICSS to assess the acute effects of LSD on reward behavior in C57BL/6JRj mice. This was done to improve the understanding of the mechanism of action of LSD and to evaluate whether the ethanol-consumption-reducing effect of LSD in mice is mediated through the reward mechanism. Methods: Bipolar electrodes targeting the medial forebrain bundle were implanted in the brains of C57BL/6JRj mice in a stereotaxic surgery. The animals were trained to acquire the self-stimulation in the discrete-trial current-intensity procedure. First, the possible dose-dependent acute effects were tested with three different doses of LSD. Next, the acute effect of LSD on amphetamine-induced changes in ISCC were tested. Lastly, a small preliminary test on the effects of LSD on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) -induced changes on ICSS were conducted. Results and conclusions: Acute LSD did not affect reward behavior in ICSS on any of the tested doses. Accordingly, LSD did not affect the facilitation of ICSS induced by acute amphetamine. The results of the LPS experiment were likely to be skewed by the development of tolerance to LPS, therefore the evaluation of the possible effect of LSD was not possible. These findings suggest that the previously reported LSD-induced reduction in ethanol consumption in mice, is not mediated through alteration of the reward mechanism. At the same time, these findings provide further evidence supporting the suggestion that LSD itself does not induce facilitation of the reward circuitry needed for the development of addiction.
  • Nikkinen, Janne (2014)
    This contribution explores the institutional arrangements of gambling regulation across the globe on the basis of available literature and electronic sources. The aim is twofold: To find out whether there are differences in how gambling operators address the problems that legalized gambling generates, and how profits are allocated to this endeavor (if they are). In many cases it is difficult to ascertain how the funds are used and whether the country-specific data is accurate, even if it is provided by official sources or (government-sanctioned) monopoly operators. For this reason, the work at hand is only a general review, providing indicators on how to proceed from here to ensure the availability of more accurate information in the future. Some actors in this field are not keen to support studies that would show the full scale of gambling-related problems. Industry-sponsored reports of gambling may exaggerate profits, and downplay the negative aspects. Similarly, governments may choose to sponsor studies that portray gambling problems as concerning individuals, not society. The fact that most research institutions and universities rely on public funding or funds obtained from gambling proceeds to finance relevant studies, is likely to influence almost all research efforts.