- Oxytocyin is a naturally occurring molecule that is well known for social bonding and childbirth.
- Administration of oxytocin could help to reduce the drug-seeking behavior for methamphetamine.
Addiction could hijack the body's natural drive in the service of compulsive drug use. A research study has now revealed that another natural system in the brain can overcome drug addiction.
The study revealed that administration of oxytocin, a naturally occurring molecule which is well known for its social bonding and childbirth could help to reduce the drug-seeking behavior in methamphetamine-addicted rats.
‘Administration of oxytocin can help to reduce the cravings for methamphetamine.’
Methamphetamine is a highly stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It is available in the form of a powder that can be made into a pill or crystal. The drug is capable of quickly causing addiction.
The research study is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Dr. Brittney Cox, University of California Irvine, said, "There are virtually no pharmacotherapeutics for methamphetamine addiction, a chronically relapsing disease that destroys many lives."
"Our results are important because they support development of novel, oxytocin-based therapeutics for methamphetamine abuse in humans."
The research team developed a new method to assess the addiction-like behaviors with methamphetamine. This could not be studied with previous techniques because of the long-acting effects.
The rats were allowed to self-administer methamphetamine using a model that was designed to examine the individual differences in the rats drug-taking behavior.
The rats were then allowed to test the effects of oxytocin in order to acquire the drug.
The findings revealed that even though oxytocin administered to rats had no effect on methamphetamine amount. It also strongly reduced the amount of effort that the rats required to take methamphetamine drug.
Oxytocin also decreased relapse to methamphetamine seeking in both males and females.
Cox said, "Intriguingly, these effects were strongest in animals with the greatest motivation to seek methamphetamine, indicating that oxytocin has potential as a treatment for addiction."
The research study also pinpoints the region in the brain where oxytocin has its effect. Infusing oxytocin into the nucleus accumbens implicated in drug addiction.
They also found that it could have the same effects when the drug was administered systemically. When an infusion of an oxytocin blocker was administered to the brain, the systemic effects of oxytocin were blocked. Thereby, driving the necessary role of nucleus accumbens for oxytocin's effects.
Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, said, "It will be interesting to learn whether oxytocin has a direct effect on the rewarding effects of methamphetamine or whether these effects are modulated by this hormone's effects on natural rewards, particularly social activity."
The research team finally concluded that the new method could measure motivation accurately predicted by relapse behavior. This was not predicted by drug-taking itself when low effort was required.
The technique could also assess addiction-like behavior in rats but not in humans. Therefore, if similar results are found in addicted people, Scientists hope that the technique could help to identify people who are most susceptible to addiction and can be useful for predicting the efficacy of oxytocin treatment.
- Brittney M. Cox, Brandon S. Bentzley, Helaina Regen-Tuero, Ronald E. See, Carmela M. Reichel, Gary Aston-Jones. Oxytocin Acts in Nucleus Accumbens to Attenuate Methamphetamine Seeking and Demand. Biological Psychiatry, (2017); DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.11.011
- ( https:medlineplus.gov/methamphetamine.html)