Adolescent Substance Abuse, Transgenerational Consequences and Epigenetics

Document Type


Publication Title

Current Neuropharmacology





Publication Date



Adolescence is the transitional period between childhood and adulthood and a critical period in brain development. Adolescence in humans is also associated with increased expression of risk-taking behaviors. Epidemiological and clinical studies, for example, show a surge of drug abuse and raise the hypothesis that the adolescent brain undergoes critical changes resulting in diminished control. Determining how substance abuse during this critical period might cause long-term neurobiological changes in cognition and behavior is therefore critically important. The present work aims to provide an evaluation of the transgenerational and multi- generational phenotypes derived from parent animals exposed to drugs of abuse only during their adolescence. Specifically, we will consider changes found following administration of cannabinoids, nicotine, alcohol and opiates. In addition, epigenetic modifications of the genome following drug exposure will be discussed as emerging evidence of the underlying adverse transgenerational effects. Notwithstanding, much of the new data discussed here is from animal models, indicating that future clinical studies are much needed to better understand the neurobiological consequences and mechanisms of drug actions on the human brains’ development and maturation.