Epigenetic pharmacotherapy for substance use disorder

Biochem Pharmacol. 2019 Oct:168:269-274. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2019.07.012. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Identifying novel therapeutics for the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) is an area of intensive investigation. Prior strategies that have attempted to modify one or a few neurotransmitter receptors have had limited success, and currently there are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana use disorders. Because drugs of abuse are known to alter the expression of numerous genes in reward-related brain regions, epigenetic-based therapies have emerged as intriguing targets for therapeutic innovation. Here, I evaluate potential therapeutic approaches and challenges in targeting epigenetic factors for the treatment of SUD and highlight examples of promising strategies and future directions.

Keywords: Addiction; Cocaine; Epigenetics; Substance use disorder; Therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / drug therapy*
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics*
  • Behavior, Addictive / metabolism
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Nicotinic Antagonists