A DNA Methylation Signature of Addiction in T Cells and Its Reversal With DHEA Intervention

Elad Lax, Gal Warhaftig, David Ohana, Rachel Maayan, Yael Delayahu, Paola Roska, Alexander M. Ponizovsky, Avraham Weizman, Gal Yadid*, Moshe Szyf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies in animal models of cocaine craving have delineated broad changes in DNA methylation profiles in the nucleus accumbens. A crucial factor for progress in behavioral and mental health epigenetics is the discovery of epigenetic markers in peripheral tissues. Several studies in primates and humans have associated differences in behavioral phenotypes with changes in DNA methylation in T cells and brain. Herein, we present a pilot study (n = 27) showing that the T cell DNA methylation profile differentiates persons with a substance use disorder from controls. Intervention with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), previously shown to have a long-term therapeutic effect on human addicts herein resulted in reversal of DNA methylation changes in genes related to pathways associated with the addictive state.

Original languageEnglish
Article number322
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2018


FundersFunder number
Canadian Institute for Health Research
Government of Quebec238658 MESRST PSR-SIIRI-854
Israel Anti-Drug Authority
McGill University
Canadian Institutes of Health ResearchMOP-42411


    • DNA methylation
    • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
    • Drug abuse
    • Drug-addiction
    • Genome-wide analysis


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