Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences




Chronic exposure to cocaine results in long-term changes in brain structure and function. Long-term changes are also seen on a microscopic level in terms of alterations in chromatin remodeling and gene expression. These cellular changes result in behavioral changes and can be passed onto the next generation. Heritable changes in gene expression is known as epigenetics and are due to modifications that alter chromatin structure allowing for changes in accessibility of a gene (Browne, Godino, Salery & Nestler, 2020). Despite advances in epigenetic research involving addiction, the mechanisms that underlie the switch from recreational use to addiction is still under much investigation. While environmental factors that put an individual at risk for drug addiction are just as important as genetic factors, a better understanding of how epigenetics plays a role may lead to better psychopharmacological treatment options and decrease the stigma that addiction is due to an individual’s lack of morals or willpower if it is framed in the context of being a brain disorder. This review will explore the genes responsible for FosB/ΔFosB and G9a. These proteins are altered following cocaine use and play a role in augmenting drug-related memories. This augmentation in drug-related memories may increase the risk of relapse in an individual, which is a major hurdle in overcoming drug addiction. In addition, this review will explore potential treatments in drug addiction to reduce the health and social costs associated with this disease.