This study is designed to see how meth makes the animal react in ways such as the amount it moves around in an open field as well as how much it vocalizes. Additionally, acupuncture is given to the rat as well as meth to see if it slows the rate down. Both the positive and negative ultrasonic vocalizations will be monitored to see if the rat is finding the experience pleasurable or not.
Meth addiction and meth use are problems for people all across the globe.
With no approved treatments for this condition, many people are turning to see how acupuncture can help with treatment. Meth use involves dopamine being released into the pleasure center of the brain.
As seen with many other drugs, the main force driving the addiction is the euphoric feeling a person gets when using the drug as well as the overbearing withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are so intense that often it forces users to give in and use the drug again to escape the ill-feeling.
As you might assume, it is often difficult to see if rodents are in pain, but these researchers were able to distinguish between pain signals and pleasure signals by the ultrasonic vocalizations the rodent was making after administration of the drug. At ultrasonic vocalizations of 22 kHz, the rodent was experiencing negative feelings and at 50 kHz the rodent was experiencing positive feelings. Another measure of whether the rodent was experiencing pain or pleasure the researchers used for the experiment was the temperature of the increase in brain temperature specifically they were looking for an increase in the nucleus accumbent of the brain. When a particular part of the brain has activated the temperature of that area goes up. Acupuncture has been used since the 1970s to treat addiction as well as recovery and withdrawal. More recently, acupuncture has been on the rise for the treatment of drug addiction and success has been achieved, the HT7 acupuncture site has been noted to decrease the drive to use drugs. This has been the case for a variety of drugs, the research suggests that it is changing the dopamine receptors in the pleasure center of the brain. This study is focusing on acupuncture and the effects it has on the use of meth. The dependent variables were locomotor activity, ultrasonic vocalizations, dopamine release, and brain temperature in the nucleus accumbent of the brain as well as how mGluR2/3 was involved in this process.
Rodents were allowed to move about as they pleased for one hour then they were given meth and immediately after acupuncture for one minute. The researchers then look to see how much activity the rodent was involved in for an hour after acupuncture. This was repeated for both the TE4 and the HT7 acupuncture sites. The chemicals used for this experiment were meth hydrochloride, D1 antagonist, and mGlu2 Agonist. The animals used in this experiment were male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing from 270-300 g.
Acupuncture treatment was given to both the HT7 and TE4 acupuncture sites. These sites were chosen because the HT7 site has been used and seems to be effective in treating drug withdrawal. After acupuncture and meth administration, ultrasonic vocalizations were recorded for forty minutes, this was used to see if the rodent was having a pleasurable or unpleasable experience. Additionally, the movement was tracked for an hour after meth and acupuncture administration.
The rodent was then put under anesthesia and a pipet was inserted into the nucleus accumbent of the brain. By doing this the researchers can measure the amount of dopamine entering and stimulating the nucleus accumbent. These signals were recorded every two minutes for one hour after administration.
In addition to this, the researchers used the temperature of the nucleus accumbent to measure how the meth affected the brain of the rodent. They also used this to see how that compared to how acupuncture affected the brain as well.
The researchers kept track of the movement of the animal with meth and acupuncture. They then looked at the locomotor activity as well. The meth still stimulated the animal with the HT7 acupuncture site, but this site did not have as dramatic an effect as the meth and the meth with the TE4 acupuncture site. This being said the HT7 site significantly cut down the amount of travel the animal went through. The difference lies between the meth group and the meth group with the HT7 acupuncture site. Therefore, meth and the HT7 acupuncture site were tested for dopamine release comparison in the brain and the HT7 also cut down significantly the amount of dopamine released in the brain of the rodent. Additionally, meth and the HT7 site lowered the brain-body temperature. They showed support for this by using a dopamine antagonist with the HT7 acupuncture and meth administration therefore, the fact that the temperature did not go as high as only meth, the HT7 acupuncture site cuts down on dopamine release in the brain.
This study provides support for acupuncture to be used as both a treatment for withdrawal as well as abuse because there are significant signs that a rat found the experience much less pleasurable with the HT7 acupuncture site. Therefore, they would not crave or want the substance in the future. The HT7 site significantly cut down on the spike in brain temperature, the dopamine release, the amount of activity the rat had as well as the ultrasonic vocalizations. Therefore, we can assume they would not turn to this substance regularly thus stopping the cycle of addiction.