Physical activity, and specifically exercise, has been suggested as a potential treatment for drug addiction. In this review, we discuss clinical and preclinical evidence for the efficacy of exercise at different phases of the addiction process. Potential neurobiological mechanisms are also discussed focusing on interactions with dopaminergic and glutamatergic signaling and chromatin remodeling in the reward pathway. While exercise generally produces an efficacious response, certain exercise conditions may be either ineffective or lead to detrimental effects depending on the level/type/timing of exercise exposure, the stage of addiction, the drug involved, and the subject population. During drug use initiation and withdrawal, its efficacy may be related to its ability to facilitate dopaminergic transmission, and once addiction develops, its efficacy may be related to its ability to normalize glutamatergic and dopaminergic signaling and reverse drug-induced changes in chromatin via epigenetic interactions with BDNF in the reward pathway. We conclude with future directions, including the development of exercise-based interventions alone or as an adjunct to other strategies for treating drug addiction.
Most neurobehavioral diseases are sexually dimorphic in their incidence, and sex differences in the brain may be key for understanding and treating these diseases. Calbindin (Calb) D28K is used as a biomarker for the well-studied sexually dimorphic nucleus, a hypothalamic structure that is larger in males than in females. In the current study weanling C56BL/6J mice were used to examine sex differences in the Calb protein and message focusing on regions outside of the hypothalamus. A robust sex difference was found in Calb in the frontal cortex (FC) and cerebellum (CB; specifically in Purkinje cells); mRNA and protein were higher in females than in males. Using 2 mouse lines, i.e. one with a complete deletion of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and the other with uncoupled gonads and sex chromosomes, we probed the mechanisms that underlie sexual dimorphisms. In the FC, deletion of ERα reduced Calb1 mRNA in females compared to males. In addition, females with XY sex chromosomes had levels of Calb1 equal to those of males. Thus, both ERα and the sex chromosome complement regulate Calb1 in the FC. In the CB, ERα knockout mice of both sexes had reduced Calb1 mRNA, yet sex differences were retained. However, the sex chromosome complement, regardless of gonadal sex, dictated Calb1 mRNA levels. Mice with XX chromosomes had significantly greater Calb1 than did XY mice. This is the first study demonstrating that sex chromosome genes are a driving force producing sex differences in the CB and FC, which are neuoranatomical regions involved in many normal functions and in neurobehavioral diseases.
Taken together, these results indicate that the efficacy of exercise is dose dependent and likely mediated through epigenetic regulation of PFC Bdnf.
Exercise has shown promise as a nonpharmacological intervention for addiction, with evidence suggesting a potential utility for relapse prevention. In humans, exercise as an intervention is typically introduced well after the initiation of abstinence, yet neurobiological data from preclinical studies suggest that it may be more effective if initiated during early abstinence. Here, using rat models, we determined whether the beneficial effects of exercise on relapse vulnerability depends on when exercise is first initiated, during early versus late abstinence. Once rats (n=47) acquired cocaine self-administration, they were given 24-h access to cocaine (1.5 mg/kg per infusion) under a discrete trial procedure (four infusions per hour) for 10 days. The rats then began a 14-day abstinence period in which they had access (2 h per day) to a locked wheel throughout abstinence (sedentary) or an unlocked wheel during early (days 1–7), late (days 8–14) or throughout (days 1–14) abstinence (n=10–14 per group). Cocaine seeking, as assessed under an extinction/cued-induced reinstatement procedure, was examined on day 15 of abstinence. Exercise beginning during early abstinence robustly attenuated subsequent cocaine seeking, and this effect persisted even when exercise ended on the seventh day of abstinence. In contrast, exercise during late abstinence was not effective and these animals displayed high levels of cocaine seeking similar to those observed in sedentary animals. These results indicate that the timing of exercise availability differentially impacts cocaine seeking with results suggesting that exercise during early, but not late, abstinence may provide long-term protection against cocaine relapse.
1) a standardized manufactured liquid formula was designedI0J containing components that were shown to challenge pp TG metabolism: saturated fat, sucrose, and ethanol;I2-l6 (2) this oral metabolic tolerance test (oMTT) was applied to a homogeneous group of 113 healthy male volunteers of similar age (25.0 f 0.3 years) and body mass index (BMI = 22.4 f 0.4 kg/m2)11 to avoid any variance in TG response by these ~ariables.5-'7-~9 0 This work was supported by the Stifterverband f i r die Deutsche Wissenschaft by the award of an H.-and L.-Schilling-Professorship to J. Schrezenmeir, and by the Institut Danone fir Erniihrung.353
These data indicate that resistance exercise decreases the positive reinforcing effects of heroin and produces changes in opioid and dopamine systems in the NAc of heroin-exposed rats.
Calbindin-D(28K) (Calb1), a high-affinity calcium buffer/sensor, shows abundant expression in neurons and has been associated with a number of neurobehavioral diseases, many of which are sexually dimorphic in incidence. Behavioral and physiological end points are affected by experimental manipulations of calbindin levels, including disruption of spatial learning, hippocampal long-term potentiation, and circadian rhythms. In this study, we investigated novel aspects of calbindin function on social behavior, anxiety-like behavior, and fear conditioning in adult mice of both sexes by comparing wild-type to littermate Calb1 KO mice. Because Calb1 mRNA and protein are sexually dimorphic in some areas of the brain, we hypothesized that sex differences in behavioral responses of these behaviors would be eliminated or revealed in Calb1 KO mice. We also examined gene expression in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, two areas of the brain intimately connected with limbic system control of the behaviors tested, in response to sex and genotype. Our results demonstrate that fear memory and social behavior are altered in male knockout mice, and Calb1 KO mice of both sexes show less anxiety. Moreover, gene expression studies of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex revealed several significant genotype and sex effects in genes related to brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling, hormone receptors, histone deacetylases, and γ-aminobutyric acid signaling. Our findings are the first to directly link calbindin with affective and social behaviors in rodents; moreover, the results suggest that sex differences in calbindin protein influence behavior.
Background Exercise is associated with positive outcomes in drug abusing populations and reduces drug self-administration in laboratory animals. To date, most research has focused on aerobic exercise, and other types of exercise have not been examined. This study examined the effects of resistance exercise (strength training) on cocaine self-administration and BDNF expression, a marker of neuronal activation regulated by aerobic exercise. Methods Female rats were assigned to either exercising or sedentary conditions. Exercising rats climbed a ladder wearing a weighted vest and trained six days/week. Training consisted of a three-set “pyramid” in which the number of repetitions and resistance varied across three sets: eight climbs carrying 70% body weight (BW), six climbs carrying 85% BW, and four climbs carrying 100% BW. Rats were implanted with intravenous catheters and cocaine self-administration was examined. Behavioral economic measures of demand intensity and demand elasticity were derived from the behavioral data. BDNF mRNA expression was measured via qRT-PCR in the nucleus accumbens following behavioral testing. Results Exercising rats self-administered significantly less cocaine than sedentary rats. A behavioral economic analysis revealed that exercise increased demand elasticity for cocaine, reducing consumption at higher unit prices. Exercising rats had lower BDNF expression in the nucleus accumbens core than sedentary rats. Conclusions These data indicate that resistance exercise decreases cocaine self-administration and reduces BDNF expression in the nucleus accumbens after a history of cocaine exposure. Collectively, these findings suggest that strength training reduces the positive reinforcing effects of cocaine and may decrease cocaine use in human populations.
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