Temporal effect of manipulating NeuroD1 expression with the synthetic small molecule KHS101 on morphine contextual memory
The treatment of opioid addiction is challenging because addicts are highly prone to relapse when the memory of the former drug experience is triggered by emotional or environmental cues. An emerging and promising concept in addiction biology is that by manipulating adult hippocampal neurogenesis, a phenomenon involved in learning and memory, drug reward–like behaviors and relapse can be attenuated. We tested a new synthetic compound, KHS101, in an animal model of drug-associated contextual memory. KHS101 has been reported to increase the expression of neurogenic differentiation 1 (NeuroD1), a transcription factor involved in adult neurogenesis, and to specifically induce neuronal differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. Our results indicated that the subcutaneous injection of 3 mg/kg KHS101 for 7 days before conditioned place preference (CPP) training prolonged CPP extinction, while the same treatment after training accelerated extinction. This effect paralleled that observed following temporally controlled, tetracycline-induced NeuroD1 overexpression. Furthermore, the effect of KHS101 may occur via its induction of NeuroD1 expression as demonstrated by the abolition of the KHS101-mediated modulation of morphine-induced CPP extinction after the stereotaxic injection of lentiviral NeuroD1 small interfering RNA into the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus. These results suggest that the KHS101-mediated modulation of neurogenesis at a critical stage of the conditioning or the extinction of an opioid-associated experience may disrupt the memory trace of the existing opioid-associated experience to facilitate the extinction of drug-associated contextual memory. This implies that KHS101 has therapeutic potential for the treatment of opioid addiction.