Review: brain neurobiology of gambling disorder based on rodent models

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2019 Jul 2;15:1751-1770. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S192746. eCollection 2019.


Different literature reviews of gambling disorder (GD) neurobiology have been focused on human studies, others have focused on rodents, and others combined human and rodent studies. The main question of this review was: which are the main neurotransmitters systems and brain structures relevant for GD based on recent rodent studies? This work aims to review the experimental findings regarding the rodent´s neurobiology of GD. A search in the Pub Med database was set (October 2012-October 2017) and 162 references were obtained. After screening, 121 references were excluded, and only 41 references remained from the initial output. More, other 25 references were added to complement (introduction section, neuroanatomical descriptions) the principal part of the work. At the end, a total of 66 references remained for the review. The main conclusions are: 1) according to studies that used noninvasive methods for drug administration, some of the neurotransmitters and receptors involved in behaviors related to GD are: muscarinic, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), dopamine 2 receptor (D2), dopamine 3 receptor (D3), and dopamine 4 receptor (D4); 2) moreover, there are other neurotransmitters and receptors involved in GD based on studies that use invasive methods of drug administration (eg, brain microinjection); example of these are: serotonin 1A receptor (5-HT1A), noradrenaline receptors, gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor A (GABAA), and gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor B (GABAB); 3) different brain structures are relevant to behaviors linked to GD, like: amygdala (including basolateral amygdala (BLA)), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, infralimbic area, insular cortex (anterior and rostral agranular), nucleus accumbens (NAc), olfactory tubercle (island of Calleja), orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), prefrontal cortex (PFC) - subcortical network, striatum (ventral) and the subthalamic nucleus (STN); and 4) the search for GD treatments should consider this diversity of receptor/neurotransmitter systems and brain areas.

Keywords: gambling disorder; murine paradigm; nervous system; review.

Publication types

  • Review