Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Faculty and Research Interests

Jessica Loweth, PhD

Jessica A. Loweth, PhD

Assistant Professor
Science Center 290A


Committee on Neurobiology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
PhD, 2009

Research Interests

A major challenge for treating cocaine addiction is the propensity for abstinent users to relapse. Two important triggers for relapse are cues associated with prior drug use and stressful life events. Stress is one of the most common triggers for relapse, but the underlying neuronal mechanisms are not fully understood. Human studies indicate that exposure to chronic adverse life events is associated with increased relapse vulnerability in abstinent cocaine addicts, indicating a need for animal models that explore interactions between chronic stress and drug withdrawal. Studies in my laboratory are focused on studying the effects of cocaine and chronic stress exposure on long-lasting changes in relapse vulnerability, with the ultimate goal of developing treatment strategies to help recovering addicts maintain abstinence. To do so we use the `incubation of cocaine craving' animal model, in which cue-induced cocaine seeking in rats progressively intensifies during the first month of withdrawal from extended-access drug self-administration. By combining behavioral, biochemical and electrophysiological techniques, we will assess the synergistic effects of cocaine and stress exposure during withdrawal on cellular and behavioral measures and, using stress resilience models, identify strategies to reverse such effects. Together, these studies will ultimately bring us closer to developing effective pharmacotherapies to prevent relapse.


PUBLICATIONS (August 2017)

  1. Werner CT, Murray CH, Reimers JM, Chauhan NM, Woo KK, Molla HM, Loweth JA, Wolf ME. Trafficking of calcium-permeable and calcium-impermeable AMPA receptors in nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons co-cultured with prefrontal cortex neurons. Neuropharmacology, 116: 224-232, April 2017.
  2. Glynn RM, Rosenkranz JA, Wolf ME, Caccamise A, Shroff F, Smith AB, Loweth JA. Repeated restraint stress exposure during early withdrawal accelerates incubation of cue-induced cocaine craving. Addict Biol, 1 - 10, November 2016.
  3. Scheyer AF, Loweth JA, Christian DT, Uejima J, Rabei R, Le T, Dolubizno H, Stefanik MT, Murray CH, Sakas C, Wolf ME. AMPA Receptor Plasticity in Accumbens Core Contributes to Incubation of Methamphetamine Craving. Biol Psychiatry, 80(9): 661-670, November 2016.
  4. Purgianto A, Loweth JA, Miao JJ, Milovanovic M, Wolf ME. Surface expression of GABAA receptors in the rat nucleus accumbens is increased in early but not late withdrawal from extended-access cocaine self-administration. Brain Res, 1642: 336-343, July 2016.
  5. Werner CT, Milovanovic M, Christian DT, Loweth JA, Wolf ME. Response of the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System to Memory Retrieval After Extended-Access Cocaine or Saline Self-Administration. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(13): 3006-14, December 2015.
  6. Reimers JM*, Loweth JA*, Wolf ME. BDNF contributes to both rapid and homeostatic alterations in AMPA receptor surface expression in nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons. Eur J Neurosci, 39(7): 1159-69, April 2014. *Co-First Authors
  7. Loweth JA, Scheyer AF, Milovanovic M, LaCrosse AL, Flores-Barrera E, Werner CT, Li X, Ford KA, Le T, Olive MF, Szumlinski KK, Tseng KY, Wolf ME. Synaptic depression via mGluR1 positive allosteric modulation suppresses cue-induced cocaine craving. Nat Neurosci, 17(1): 73-80, January 2014.

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