The complex epigenetic interaction in the predisposition to drug dependence: a systematic literature review




Illicit drugs; Epigenetics; Drug addiction; Mental health; Health teaching.


This research aims to examine the issue of chemical dependence and the occurrences of epigenetic changes, highlighting its relevance in the clinical care of illegal drug users. For that, a systematic literature review was carried out, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) model. An electronic search for articles was performed in the databases: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL); EBSCOhost, EMBASE; Latindex; Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde (LILACS); Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online/PubMed (MEDLINE); Science Direct, Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), SCOPUS, ISI Web of Science, with the descriptors "epigenetics AND illicit drugs AND addiction OR dependence AND mental disorders AND genetic predisposition OR genetic susceptibility”, chosen in consultation with DeCS and Medical Subject Heading (MeSH). A search strategy resulted in 532 studies. Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 22 articles published from 2008 to 2021 in national and international literature were analyzed. This review contributes to direct future research. A greater understanding of the complexities of the epigenome and the unravelling of the effects and contributions of disease states versus drugs of abuse is crucial to the development of new clinical therapies. Epigenetic therapy holds great promise for treating complex diseases and personalized interventions, including psychiatric illnesses.

Author Biographies

Cíntia da Silva Telles Nichele , Fundação Oswaldo Cruz

Lawyer. She holds a degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Master in Public Health from the Sérgio Arouca National School of Public Health of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (ENSP/FIOCRUZ), in the area of Health, Work and Environment. He is currently studying for a Doctorate in Public Health at ENSP/FIOCRUZ in the line of determination of health-disease processes: production/work, territories and human rights, developing research focused on the impact of International Human Rights Treaties on health. Professor of the Specialization Course in Human Rights and Health at the Department of Human Rights, Health and Cultural Diversity at ENSP/FIOCRUZ.

Jéssica Barreto dos Santos, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz

Psychologist, Master's student in Public Health at the National School of Public Health (ENSP/FIOCRUZ) and specialist in Psychoanalytic Clinic at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ). She currently works as a psychologist at the Municipality of Barra do Piraí and at the Amil Saúde Mental Health Program. She has experience in social work, mental health and clinical practice with an emphasis on psychoanalysis. Her research permeates the themes of gender, feminine clinic and mental health.

Maria José Cruz-Hernández, Comisión Nacional contra las Adicciones

Researcher at the Mexican Observatory of Mental Health and Drug Use, National Commission against Addictions (CONADIC).


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How to Cite

FERREIRA, A. P. .; NICHELE , C. da S. T.; SANTOS, J. B. dos .; CRUZ-HERNÁNDEZ, M. J. . The complex epigenetic interaction in the predisposition to drug dependence: a systematic literature review. Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 11, n. 7, p. e51911730216, 2022. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v11i7.30216. Disponível em: Acesso em: 20 feb. 2024.



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