Using iPSC‐derived human DA neurons from opioid‐dependent subjects to study dopamine dynamics
During development, survival of midbrain dopamine neurons and specification of their phenotype are dependent upon the intracellular expression of a number of transcription factors, including Engrailed 1, Pitx3, and Nurr1. The role of these transcription factors in the maintenance of the dopaminergic phenotype is less clear. In the present study, we show that each of these transcription factors is robustly expressed in adult dopamine neurons in human midbrain, and that cocaine abuse is associated with a significant decrease in the abundance of Nurr1 and Pitx3 in these cells. These data suggest that cocaine abuse leads to a partial loss of dopaminergic phenotype.