Researchers at the university's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences had published a rodent study related to methamphetamine addiction in The FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology). While this was a pre-clinical study, it offered some compelling conclusions that someday could alter the conversation about addiction treatment approaches.
The researchers focused on the circadian rhythms that are disrupted in addiction and that exacerbate risk for relapse; these are the same effects that a person taking an overseas flight might experience. They studied mice whose suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus, an area that acts as the body's master circadian clock, had been removed. As senior author Margarita Dubocovich, PhD, who chairs the medical school's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, explains, the researchers then set out to restore the disrupted rhythms.
The mice normally will engage in 12 hours of activity followed by 12 hours of sleep, but without the SCN their activity was all over the place. For two weeks, the mice were exposed to a running wheel for eight hours a day and also received a daily injection of methamphetamine. Both of these stimuli target similar reward centers involved in synchronization of rhythms, which is why the researchers believed they might prove to be effective in tandem. What they found is that the combination of exercise and drug activated a new clock that took over and reinstated the disrupted rhythms. It is important to note that this worked only when the exercise and methamphetamine were used together, not with one in isolation.
As study co-author Oliver Rawashdeh, PhD, explained in the news release, “By using the principles of learning and memory, we may have rewired the brain's circuitry, activating a new clock—a form of plasticity—using the same stimulus that caused addiction in the first place, methamphetamine. This was necessary in order to transfer the euphoric and pleasurable characteristics associated with the drug over to a healthy stimulus—exercise.”
Content Originally Published By: Gary Enos@ Addiction Professional