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Neurosci Lett. 2005 Oct 14;387(1):17-21.

Effect of acupuncture on behavioral hyperactivity and dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens in rats sensitized to morphine.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, College of Oriental Medicine, Daegu Haany University, Daegu 706-828, South Korea.


Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention has been used for the treatment of many functional disorders including substance abuse. However, there are still many unanswered question about the basic mechanism underlying acupuncture's effectiveness in the treatment of drug addiction. Repeated injection of psycostimulants or morphine can produce behavioral and neurochemical sensitization and have been used as a model for studying drug addiction. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of acupuncture on repeated morphine-induced changes in extracellular dopamine levels using in vivo microdialysis and repeated morphine-induced behavioral changes. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with saline or increasing doses of morphine (10, 20 and 40 mg/kg, s.c., twice daily for 3 days). Following 15 days of withdrawal, acupuncture was applied at bilateral Shenmen (HT7) points for 1 min after the systemic challenge with morphine HCl (5 mg/kg, s.c.). Results showed that acupuncture at the specific acupoint HT7, but not at control points (TE8 and tail) significantly decreased both dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and behavioral hyperactivity induced by a systemic morphine challenge. These results suggest that the therapeutic effect of acupuncture on morphine addiction occurs through inhibition of neurochemical and behavioral sensitization to morphine.

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