Lipids and addiction: how sex steroids, prostaglandins, and cannabinoids interact with drugs of abuse

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Abstract

Lipidomics aims to identify and characterize all endogenous species of lipids and understand their roles in cellular signaling and, ultimately, the functioning of the organism. We are on the cusp of fully understanding the functions of many of the lipid signaling systems that have been identified for decades (e.g., steroids, prostaglandins), whereas our understanding of newer lipid signaling systems (e.g., endocannabinoids, N-acyl amides) still lags considerably behind. With an emphasis on their roles in the neurophysiology of addiction, we will examine three classes of lipids—sex steroids, prostaglandins, and cannabinoids—and how they work synergistically in the neurocircuitry of motivation. We will first give a brief overview of the biosynthesis for each class of lipid and its receptors, and then summarize what is known about the collective roles of the lipids in cocaine and alcohol abuse. This approach provides a novel view of lipid signaling as a class of molecules and their synergistic roles in addiction.

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