Effects of acupuncture on stress-induced relapse to cocaine-seeking in rats

College of Oriental Medicine, Daegu Haany University, 165 Sang-Dong, Suseong-Gu, Daegu 706-828, South Korea.
Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.88). 03/2012; 222(2):303-11. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-012-2683-3
Source: PubMed


Cocaine addiction is associated with high rates of relapse, and stress has been identified as a major risk factor. We have previously demonstrated that acupuncture reduces drug self-administration and dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain structure implicated in stress-induced reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior.
This study was conducted to investigate the effects of acupuncture on footshock-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking and the expression of c-Fos and the transcription factor cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) in the NAc, used as markers of neuronal activation in conditions of stress-induced reinstatement to cocaine.
Male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (1.0 mg/kg) for 14 days, followed by extinction and then footshock stress. Acupuncture was applied at bilateral Shenmen (HT7) points for 1 min after footshock stress.
Acute footshock stress reinstated cocaine-seeking behavior and enhanced c-Fos expression and phosphorylated CREB (pCREB) activation in the NAc shell in cocaine pre-exposed rats. On the other hand, acupuncture at HT7, but not at control point (LI5), markedly reduced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking (86.5 % inhibition vs. control value), c-Fos expression (81.7% inhibition), and pCREB activation (79.3% inhibition) in the NAc shell. These results suggest that acupuncture attenuates stress-induced relapse by regulating neuronal activation in the NAc shell.

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Available from: Scott C Steffensen, Jan 07, 2015
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    • "In 1997, the NIH released a consensus statement concluding that acupuncture is effective or at least useful for the treatment of 13 conditions including drug addiction, low back pain and stroke rehabilitation [1]. Our previous studies have shown that manual acupuncture at acupoint Shenmen (HT7), located at the ulnar side of the wrist, suppresses drug self-administration behavior or relapse to abused drugs such as cocaine, morphine and ethanol [2-5]. The central mechanism underlying acupuncture’s role in suppressing the reinforcing effects of abused drugs includes modulation of GABAergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) through opioid receptors [3,4] and suppression of dopamine (DA) release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) [2,4]. "
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