Acupuncture attenuates cocaine-induced expression of behavioral sensitization in rats: possible involvement of the dopaminergic system in the ventral tegmental area.
Neurosci Lett. 2009 Jan 9;449(2):128-32. Epub 2008 Oct 30. PMID: 18992788
Acupuncture is widely used for the treatment of many functional disorders, such as substance abuse, and has the suppressive effect on the central nervous system. Many studies have suggested that behavioral sensitization by repeated injections of cocaine produce an increase in locomotor activity and an increase in the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), in the central dopaminergic system. In order to investigate the effects of acupuncture on the repeated cocaine-induced neuronal and behavioral sensitization alternations, we examined the influence of acupuncture on the repeated cocaine-induced locomotor activity and the expression of TH in the brain using immunohistochemistry. Male SD rats were given repeated injections of cocaine hydrochloride (15 mg/kg, i.p. for 10 consecutive days) followed by one challenge injection on the 4th day after the last daily injection. Cocaine challenge produced a large increase in the locomotor activity and the expression of TH in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Treatment with acupuncture bilaterally at the Shenman (HT7) points for 1 min significantly inhibited the increase of locomotor activity as well as the TH expression in the VTA. Our data demonstrated that the inhibitory effects of acupuncture on cocaine-induced expression of behavioral sensitization were closely associated with the reduction of dopamine (DA) biosynthesis and the postsynaptic neuronal activity. These results provide evidence that acupuncture may be effective for inhibiting the behavioral effects of cocaine by possible modulation of the central dopaminergic system.