My aim is to unravel the neurobiological mechanisms underlying drug addiction with a particular focus on relapse mechanisms related to alcohol and nicotine. These studies have a strong multidisciplinary character and include behavioural analysis, proteomics, neurophysiology and opto- and chemogenetic approaches.

The treatment of addiction is frustrated by high rates of relapse. These relapses are thought to result from retrieval of drug-related memories and the translation of those memories into goal-directed behavior. Accordingly, addiction can be viewed as a pathological condition of the brain that develops using mechanisms of synaptic plasticity similar to traditional models of learning and memory. The main focus of the CNCR Addiction team is to identify the molecular and cellular underpinnings of an enhanced vulnerability and relapse to drug seeking using rodent models of addiction.

This research line is supported by two ZON-MW Top grants. The PI’s involved include Guus Smit, Sabine Spijker, Huib Mansvelder, Michel van den Oever, Tommy Pattij (ANW/VUmc) and Nathan Marchant (ANW/VUmc).

Lubbers BR, Van Mourik Y, Smit AB, De Vries TJ*, Spijker S* (2014) Prefrontal GABAA receptor insertion controls cue-induced relapse to nicotine seeking. Biol Psychiatry 76:750-758.

Riga D, Schmitz LJM, van der Harst JE, van Mourik Y, Hoogendijk WJG, Smit AB, De Vries TJ*, Spijker S* (2013) A sustained depressive state promotes a guanfacine reversible susceptibility to alcohol seeking in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol 39:1115-1124.

Peters J, Pattij T, De Vries TJ (2013) Targeting cocaine versus heroin memories: divergent roles within ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Trends Pharmacol Sci 34:689-695.

Van den Oever MC, Spijker S, Smit AB, De Vries TJ (2009) Prefrontal cortex plasticity mechanisms in drug seeking and relapse. Neurosci Biobehav Rev doi:10.1016/ j.neubiorev.2009.11.016

Van den Oever MC, Goriounova NA, Li KW, Van der Schors RC, Binnekade R, Schoffelmeer ANM, Mansvelder HD, Smit AB, Spijker S*, De Vries TJ*. Prefrontal cortex AMPA receptor plasticity is critical for cue-induced relapse to heroin seeking. Nature Neurosci 11 (2008) 1053-1058.