Pituitary adenylyl cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) was originally isolated from the hypothalamus and found to stimulate adenylyl cyclase in the pituitary. Later studies showed that this peptide and its receptors (PAC1, VPAC1, and VPAC2) are widely expressed in the central nervous system (CNS). Consistent with its distribution in the CNS, the PACAP/PAC1 receptor system is involved in several physiological responses, such as mediation of the stress response, modulation of nociception, regulation of prolactin release, food intake, etc. This system is also implicated in different pathological states, e.g., affective component of nociceptive processing, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorders. A review of the literature on PubMed revealed that PACAP and its receptors also play a significant role in the actions of addictive drugs. The goal of this review is to discuss the literature regarding the involvements of PACAP and its receptors in the motivational effects of addictive drugs. We particularly focus on the role of this peptide in the motivational effects of morphine, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
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