Galanin and addiction

Exp Suppl. 2010;102:195-208. doi: 10.1007/978-3-0346-0228-0_14.


There has been increasing interest in the ability of neuropeptides involved in feeding to modulate circuits important for responses to drugs of abuse. A number of peptides with effects on hypothalamic function also modulate the mesolimbic dopamine system (ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens). Similarly, common stress-related pathways can modulate food intake, drug reward and symptoms of drug withdrawal. Galanin promotes food intake and the analgesic properties of opiates, thus it initially seemed possible that galanin might potentiate opiate reinforcement. Instead, galanin agonists decrease opiate reward, measured by conditioned place preference, and opiate withdrawal signs, whereas opiate reward and withdrawal are increased in knockout mice lacking galanin. This is consistent with studies showing that galanin decreases activity-evoked dopamine release in striatal slices and decreases the firing rate of noradrenergic neurons in locus coeruleus, areas involved in drug reward and withdrawal, respectively. These data suggest that polymorphisms in genes encoding galanin or galanin receptors might be associated with susceptibility to opiate abuse. Further, galanin receptors might be potential targets for development of novel treatments for addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Galanin / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Neuropeptides
  • Galanin