Addiction is a chronic disorder in which consumption of a substance or a habitual behavior becomes compulsive and often recurrent, despite adverse consequences. Substance p (SP) is an undecapeptide and was the first neuropeptide of the neurokinin family to be discovered. The subsequent decades of research after its discovery implicated SP and its neurokinin relatives as neurotransmitters involved in the modulation of the reward pathway. Here, we review the neurokinin literature, giving a brief historical perspective of neurokinin pharmacology, localization in various brain regions involved in addictive behaviors, and the functional aspects of neurokinin pharmacology in relation to reward in preclinical models of addiction that have shaped the rational drug design of neurokinin antagonists that could translate into human research. Finally, we will cover the clinical investigations using neurokinin antagonists and discuss their potential as a therapy for drug abuse.
Keywords: alcohol; cocaine; dopamine; morphine; reward; substance p.