Stress-like symptoms are an integral part of acute and protracted drug withdrawal, and several lines of evidence have shown that dysregulation of brain stress systems, including the extrahypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system, following long-term drug use is of major importance in maintaining drug and alcohol addiction. Recently, two other neuropeptide systems have attracted interest, the nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) and orexin/hypocretin (Orx/Hcrt) systems. N/OFQ participates in a wide range of physiological responses, and the hypothalamic Orx/Hcrt system helps regulate several physiological processes, including feeding, energy metabolism, and arousal. Moreover, these two systems have been suggested to participate in psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and drug addiction. Dysregulation of these systems by chronic drug exposure has been hypothesized to play a role in the maintenance of addiction and dependence. Recent evidence demonstrated that interactions between CRF-N/OFQ and CRF-Orx/Hcrt systems may be functionally relevant for the control of stress-related addictive behavior. The present review discusses recent findings that support the hypotheses of the participation and dysregulation of these systems in drug addiction and evaluates the current understanding of interactions among these stress-regulatory peptides.
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