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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00626

Molecular imaging of opioid and dopamine systems: insights into the pharmacogenetics of opioid use disorders

  • 1National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), United States
  • 2National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), United States

Opioid use in the United States has steadily risen since the 1990's, along with staggering increases in addiction and overdose fatalities. With this surge in prescription and illicit opioid abuse, it is paramount to understand the genetic risk factors and neuropsychological effects of opioid use disorder (OUD). Polymorphisms disrupting the opioid and dopamine systems have been associated with increased risk for developing substance use disorders. Molecular imaging studies have revealed how these polymorphisms impact the brain and contribute to cognitive and behavioral differences across individuals. Here, we review the current molecular imaging literature to assess how genetic variations in the opioid and dopamine systems affect function in the brain's reward, cognition, and stress pathways, potentially resulting in vulnerabilities to OUD. Continued research of the functional consequences of genetic variants and corresponding alterations in neural mechanisms will inform prevention and treatment of OUD.

Keywords: Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), Neuroimaging, Genetics, Positron emision tomography (PET), polymorphism, Opioid Receptor, Dopamine receptor

Received: 15 Jan 2019; Accepted: 05 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Burns, Kroll, Feldman, Kure Liu, Manza, Wiers, Volkow and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Bethesda, United States, gene-jack.wang@nih.gov