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Effect of Exercise Training on Striatal Dopamine D2/D3 Receptors in Methamphetamine Users during Behavioral Treatment.

  • Author(s): Robertson, Chelsea L;
  • Ishibashi, Kenji;
  • Chudzynski, Joy;
  • Mooney, Larissa J;
  • Rawson, Richard A;
  • Dolezal, Brett A;
  • Cooper, Christopher B;
  • Brown, Amira K;
  • Mandelkern, Mark A;
  • London, Edythe D
  • et al.

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Methamphetamine use disorder is associated with striatal dopaminergic deficits that have been linked to poor treatment outcomes, identifying these deficits as an important therapeutic target. Exercise attenuates methamphetamine-induced neurochemical damage in the rat brain, and a preliminary observation suggests that exercise increases striatal D2/D3 receptor availability (measured as nondisplaceable binding potential (BPND)) in patients with Parkinson's disease. The goal of this study was to evaluate whether adding an exercise training program to an inpatient behavioral intervention for methamphetamine use disorder reverses deficits in striatal D2/D3 receptors. Participants were adult men and women who met DSM-IV criteria for methamphetamine dependence and were enrolled in a residential facility, where they maintained abstinence from illicit drugs of abuse and received behavioral therapy for their addiction. They were randomized to a group that received 1 h supervised exercise training (n=10) or one that received equal-time health education training (n=9), 3 days/week for 8 weeks. They came to an academic research center for positron emission tomography (PET) using [(18)F]fallypride to determine the effects of the 8-week interventions on striatal D2/D3 receptor BPND. At baseline, striatal D2/D3 BPND did not differ between groups. However, after 8 weeks, participants in the exercise group displayed a significant increase in striatal D2/D3 BPND, whereas those in the education group did not. There were no changes in D2/D3 BPND in extrastriatal regions in either group. These findings suggest that structured exercise training can ameliorate striatal D2/D3 receptor deficits in methamphetamine users, and warrants further evaluation as an adjunctive treatment for stimulant dependence.

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