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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 9803764, 17 pages
Review Article

The Role of Cell Adhesion Molecule Genes Regulating Neuroplasticity in Addiction

1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA
2Molecular Neurobiology Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, Baltimore, MD, USA
3New Mexico VA Healthcare System, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to F. Scott Hall

Received 14 August 2017; Accepted 10 December 2017; Published 20 February 2018

Academic Editor: Michele Fornaro

Copyright © 2018 Dawn E. Muskiewicz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A variety of genetic approaches, including twin studies, linkage studies, and candidate gene studies, has established a firm genetic basis for addiction. However, there has been difficulty identifying the precise genes that underlie addiction liability using these approaches. This situation became especially clear in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of addiction. Moreover, the results of GWAS brought into clarity many of the shortcomings of those early genetic approaches. GWAS studies stripped away those preconceived notions, examining genes that would not previously have been considered in the study of addiction, consequently creating a shift in our understanding. Most importantly, those studies implicated a class of genes that had not previously been considered in the study of addiction genetics: cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). Considering the well-documented evidence supporting a role for various CAMs in synaptic plasticity, axonal growth, and regeneration, it is not surprising that allelic variation in CAM genes might also play a role in addiction liability. This review focuses on the role of various cell adhesion molecules in neuroplasticity that might contribute to addictive processes and emphasizes the importance of ongoing research on CAM genes that have been implicated in addiction by GWAS.