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Neurol India. 2019 Sep-Oct;67(5):1220-1224. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.271239.

Nucleus Accumbens as a Novel Target for Deep Brain Stimulation in the Treatment of Addiction: A Hypothesis on the Neurochemical and Morphological Basis.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago,IL, USA.


Addiction is a major cause of mortality and morbidity. Apart from psychotropic substances, alcohol and nicotine remain the common addictive materials responsible for the majority of deaths. Conventional conservative therapies are beneficial to certain populations, but the majority may require interventional treatments such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) in view of increasing mortality from drug abuse in recent years. We present a brief review on a novel neuromodulation target of the nucleus accumbens (NA) and its promising role in the management of addiction. The three stages of the addiction cycle are known to be mediated by dopaminergic pathways located in the mesolimbic dopamine system with connections to dorsal striatum, extended amygdala, cingulate gyrus, orbitofrontal cortex, prefrontal cortex, and ventral tegmental area. Recent advanced neuroimaging in humans and several animal studies demonstrated NA to be a vital anatomical area modulating this network. DBS of NA in animals reduced addictive behavior to alcohol, cocaine, and other narcotics significantly. The accidental observation that DBS of NA for psychiatric illnesses induced relief from addiction to alcohol and smoking has encouraged further research of late. Bilateral NA ablative surgery had shown nonrelapse in more than 50% of cases. Small series of patients have benefited so far from DBS of NA, but larger numbers are required to provide evidence-based treatment. The modulation of dopaminergic pathways through DBS of NA as a valid treatment for addiction is substantiated extensively by animal studies and also in a few clinical studies. However, this needs to be validated by a well-structured, multicenter controlled study in a large group of patients suffering from substance abuse.


Addiction; alcoholism; deep brain stimulation; neuromodulation; nucleus accumbens; substance abuse

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