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May Exercise Prevent Addiction?

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Amphetamines exert their persistent addictive effects by activating brain's reward pathways, perhaps through the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (and/or in other places). On the other hand, there is a relationship between dopamine and all behavioural aspects that involve motor activity and it has been demonstrated that exercise leads to an increase in the synthesis and release of dopamine, stimulates neuroplasticity and promotes feelings of well-being. Moreover, exercise and drugs of abuse activate overlapping neural systems. Thus, our aim was to study the influence of chronic exercise in the mechanism of addiction using an amphetamine-induced conditioned-place-preference in rats.

Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly separated in groups with and without chronic exercise. Chronic exercise consisted in a 8 week treadmill running program, with increasing intensity. The conditioned place preference test was performed in both groups using a procedure and apparatus previously established. A 2 mg.kg-1 amphetamine or saline solution was administered intraperitonially according to the schedule of the conditioned place preference.

Before conditioning none of the animals showed preference for a specific compartment of the apparatus. The used amphetamine dose in the conditioning phase was able to produce a marked preference towards the drug-associated compartment in the group without exercise. In the animals with exercise a significant preference by the compartment associated with saline was observed.

These results lead us to conclude that a previous practice of regular physical activity may help preventing amphetamine addiction in the conditions used in this test.
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Keywords: Addiction; Amphetamine; Conditioned-place-preference; Exercise; Training; mesocorticolimbic

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • Current Neuropharmacology aims to provide current, timely and comprehensive reviews of all areas of neuropharmacology and related matters of neuroscience. The journal publishes reviews written by experts and leaders in the fields of molecular, cellular, and systems/behavioural aspects of neuropharmacology and neuroscience. The journal serves as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary expert forum for neuropharmacologists and neuroscientists.
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