Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study drug addiction

Hum Genet. 2012 Jun;131(6):959-75. doi: 10.1007/s00439-012-1146-6. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Animal studies have been instrumental in providing knowledge about the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying drug addiction. Recently, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has become a valuable system to model not only the acute stimulating and sedating effects of drugs but also their more complex rewarding properties. In this review, we describe the advantages of using the fly to study drug-related behavior, provide a brief overview of the behavioral assays used, and review the molecular mechanisms and neural circuits underlying drug-induced behavior in flies. Many of these mechanisms have been validated in mammals, suggesting that the fly is a useful model to understand the mechanisms underlying addiction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drosophila melanogaster*
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Amphetamines
  • Ethanol
  • Nicotine
  • Cocaine