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, 7 (2), 260-268

Expression of NMDA Receptor Subunits in Human Blood Lymphocytes: A Peripheral Biomarker in Online Computer Game Addiction


Expression of NMDA Receptor Subunits in Human Blood Lymphocytes: A Peripheral Biomarker in Online Computer Game Addiction

Mitra-Sadat Sadat-Shirazi et al. J Behav Addict.


Background and aims Repeated performance of some behaviors such as playing computer games could result in addiction. The NMDA receptor is critically involved in the development of behavioral and drug addictions. It has been claimed that the expression level of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain may be reflected in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). Methods Here, using a real-time PCR method, we have investigated the mRNA expression of GluN2A, GluN2D, GluN3A, and GluN3B subunits of the NMDA receptor in PBLs of male online computer game addicts (n = 25) in comparison with normal subjects (n = 26). Results Expression levels of GluN2A, GluN2D, and GluN3B subunits were not statistically different between game addicts and the control group. However, the mRNA expression of the GluN3A subunit was downregulated in PBLs of game addicts. Discussion and conclusions Transcriptional levels of GluN2A and GluN2D subunits in online computer game addicts are similar to our previously reported data of opioid addiction and are not different from the control group. However, unlike our earlier finding of drug addiction, the mRNA expression levels of GluN3A and GluN3B subunits in PBLs of game addicts are reduced and unchanged, respectively, compared with control subjects. It seems that the downregulated state of the GluN3A subunit of NMDA receptor in online computer game addicts is a finding that deserves more studies in the future to see whether it can serve as a peripheral biomarker in addiction studies, where the researcher wants to rule out the confusing effects of abused drugs.

Keywords: NMDA receptor; lymphocyte; mRNA expression; online computer game addiction.


<i>Figure 1</i>.
Figure 1.
The mRNA expression of GluN2A (A), GluN2D (B), GluN3A (C), and GluN3B (D) subunits of NMDA receptor in PBLs of the computer game-addicted and control subjects. Bars represent fold differences of mean normalized expression values ± SEM (n = 25 in game-addicted and 26 in control groups). ***P < .001 from the control group

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