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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Serotonin Role in Stimulant Addiction (Does Serotonin Increase or Decrease Stimulant Cravings?)

Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects a number of systemic and behavioral processes. It's effects in the Central Nervous System extend to blood pressure regulation as well as affecting heart rate. Behaviorally, serotonin has differential effects depending on the receptor activated.

In regards to stimulant addiction, serotonin doesn't necessarily go one way or another. However, serotonin is shown in the following study to lead to a proclivity to stimulant addiction/dependence when it activates the 5-HT1A autoreceptor. This makes perfect sense, because that particular receptor is inhibitory whereas many other serotonin receptors are stimulatory (such as 2A,3A,4A,7A). 

Oddly though, 5-HT1A post-synaptic receptors are the complete opposite to the autoreceptors in that they may inhibit the expression of addiction like behaviors(1)

Despite serotonin's stimulatory effects at other receptors...this does not mean that activating them is a proper resort to reducing stimulant addiction, because many serotonin receptors increase stress hormones - paradoxically the stimulatory subtypes may actually create an addiction-prone-atmosphere..thus it is wise to not utilize the serotonergic system to treat addiction, aside from autoreceptor specific antagonists that have no affinity/attachment to other receptors(2)(3)(4)(5)

More evidence for the above, when serotonin activates the type 2A receptor(6), or when there is a polymorphism of the receptor(7), addiction-related behavior for smoking specifically is INCREASED - this provides evidence that multiple serotonin receptors may promote addiction related behavior. With a tendency towards cocaine and tobacco addiction . This implicates serotonin as an anti-target for treating certain forms of addiction.

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