The transcription factor ΔFosB is upregulated in numerous brain regions following repeated drug exposure. This induction is likely to, at least in part, be responsible for the mechanisms underlying addiction, a disorder in which the regulation of gene expression is thought to be essential. In this review, we describe and discuss the proposed role of ΔFosB as well as the implications of recent findings. The expression of ΔFosB displays variability dependent on the administered substance, showing region-specificity for different drug stimuli. This transcription factor is understood to act via interaction with Jun family proteins and the formation of activator protein-1 (AP-1) complexes. Once AP-1 complexes are formed, a multitude of molecular pathways are initiated, causing genetic, molecular and structural alterations. Many of these molecular changes identified are now directly linked to the physiological and behavioral changes observed following chronic drug exposure. In addition, ΔFosB induction is being considered as a biomarker for the evaluation of potential therapeutic interventions for addiction.
Keywords: Addiction; DeltaFosB; biomarker; epigenetics; transcription; treatment.