Casting a Wide Net: Role of Perineuronal Nets in Neural Plasticity.
Exposure to drugs of abuse induces plasticity in the brain and creates persistent drug-related memories. These changes in plasticity and persistent drug memories are believed to produce aberrant motivation and reinforcement contributing to addiction. Most studies have explored the effect drugs of abuse have on pre- and postsynaptic cells and astrocytes; however, more recently, attention has shifted to explore the effect these drugs have on the extracellular matrix (ECM). Within the ECM are unique structures arranged in a net-like manner, surrounding a subset of neurons called perineuronal nets (PNNs). This review focuses on drug-induced changes in PNNs, the molecules that regulate PNNs, and the expression of PNNs within brain circuitry mediating motivation, reward, and reinforcement as it pertains to addiction.