, Volume 222, Issue 2, pp 303-311

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

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Abstract

Rationale

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.

Objective

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.

Methods

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.

Results and conclusions

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.

Seong Shoon Yoon and Eun Jin Yang contributed equally to this work.