Persistent variations in neuronal DNA methylation following cocaine self-administration and protracted abstinence in mice

Danay Baker-Andresen, Qiongyi Zhao, Xiang Li, Bianca Jupp, Rose Chesworth, Andrew J. Lawrence, Timothy W. Bredy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Continued vulnerability to relapse during abstinence is a characteristic of cocaine addiction and suggests that drug-induced neuroadaptations persist during abstinence. However, the precise cellular and molecular attributes of these adaptations remain equivocal. One possibility is that cocaine self-administration leads to enduring changes in DNA methylation. To address this possibility, we isolated neurons from medial prefrontal cortex and performed high throughput DNA sequencing to examine changes in DNA methylation following cocaine self-administration. Twenty-nine genomic regions became persistently differentially methylated during cocaine self-administration, and an additional 28 regions became selectively differentially methylated during abstinence. Altered DNA methylation was associated with isoform-specific changes in the expression of co-localizing genes. These results provide the first neuron-specific, genome-wide profile of changes in DNA methylation induced by cocaine self-administration and protracted abstinence. Moreover, our findings suggest that altered DNA methylation facilitates long-term behavioral adaptation in a manner that extends beyond the perpetuation of altered transcriptional states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine self-administration
  • DNA methylation
  • Genome-wide
  • MBD
  • Neuron
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Relapse

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