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Behav Brain Res. 2010 Dec 20;215(1):77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.06.033. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

Chronic forced exercise during adolescence decreases cocaine conditioned place preference in Lewis rats.

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Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States.


Chronic physical activity (exercise) may be beneficial in the prevention of substance use disorders; however, the extent to which physical activity can interfere with the reinforcing effects of drugs during the adolescent period, which is one of great vulnerability for drug experimentation, has not been fully evaluated. Here, we assess the effects of chronic forced exercise during adolescence on preference for cocaine using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm in male and female Lewis rats. The group of rats exposed to exercise ran on a treadmill for 6 weeks on a progressive time-increased schedule for up to 1h of exercise per day, while the groups of sedentary rats remained in their home cage. Following the 6 weeks of exercise exposure, rats were tested for cocaine CPP. Results showed that chronic exercise significantly attenuated cocaine CPP in both males and females compared to a sedentary environment. Furthermore, male exercise rats failed to show significant cocaine CPP. In contrast, female exercise rats still showed cocaine CPP but it was significantly reduced compared to the female sedentary rats. Females also exhibited greater cocaine CPP than males overall. These findings suggest that strategies to promote physical activity during adolescence may be protective against cocaine abuse in both males and females, and these findings merit further investigation. We also corroborate a gender-specific sensitivity to the reinforcing effects of cocaine, highlighting the need to consider gender-tailored exercise interventions for drug abuse prevention.

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