TUBITAK 1003 Project Partnership with Medeniyet University

In the Tübitak 1003 project titled “Molecular Mechanisms in Heroin Dependent Brain Tissue” led by Prof. Dr. Sadrettin Pençe from Medeniyet University, Dr. Assist. Prof. Dr. Esra Güzel Tanoğlu is working as a researcher.

Heroin addiction is one of the neuropsychiatric diseases that affect many genetic and epigenetic systems. Heroin alters the molecular mechanisms in the human brain by affecting the expression of some genes in the brain while causing addiction. Studies in different disciplines are trying to explain the complex origin of addiction. However, the changes that occur in brain tissue as a result of heroin addiction have not been fully elucidated at the molecular level. With the PCR-Array method, one of the modern molecular techniques developed in recent years, it is possible to quantitatively analyze the expression of approximately 2000 microRNA genes. With the microarray methods developed, mRNAs of genes expressed in the whole genome can be analyzed quantitatively at the same time. Epigenetic changes due to methylation in promoter regions that affect gene expression can also be detected by microarray method.

In the study, it is aimed to find the expression differences at both microRNA and mRNA levels in post-mortem brain cells of people who died after addiction and in experimental animals with addiction models, and to detect epigenetic changes by whole genome methylation profile analysis.

Within the scope of the project, the following procedures will be carried out respectively:

The frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus, nucleus accumbens, VTA, locus ceruleus and CSF will be sampled from the brains of people who died as heroin addicts.

MicroRNA Expression Analysis is performed after microRNA isolation from brain tissue. Whole genome mRNA Expression Analysis is performed after mRNA isolation from brain tissue. After DNA isolation from brain tissue, whole genome methylation profile is scanned by microarray method.

Proteomics analysis and analysis of the protein profile changed after RNA interference. In 30 rats, a heroin addiction model is created.

For the regions analyzed in humans, mRNA and microRNA expression analyses are also performed in rats. Bioinformatic analysis to identify genes and proteins involved in addiction. Thanks to these processes, clues will be obtained about the molecular mechanisms that change in heroin addiction in the human brain but have not yet been elucidated. These clues will potentially be used in the development of treatment strategies for heroin addiction. Our study, which will be a model for the development of treatment pathways, will be able to reduce the number of heroin addicted users and reduce heroin use. In addition to the scientific value of our study, it has a socioeconomic value and will contribute to the world literature and economy, especially to our country.