Deep Brain Stimulation of the Nucleus Accumbens for the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
With approximately 7% of the adult population reporting to have taken illicit substances over the course of a year and the chronically relapsing nature of substance use disorders there is a great need for effective forms of treatment and therapies to reduce relapse. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a process of neuromodulation where electrodes are implanted in a target region to modulate the electrophysiological activity of the target region. DBS has been postulated as a potential therapy for treatment-refractory addiction, with a great deal of focus on the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Forty male Long Evans rats were implanted with unilateral stimulating electrodes within the right NAc prior to exposure to chronic cocaine self-administration (0.5 mg/kg/infusion). Following self administration, the animals were withdrawn from cocaine and treated with 14 consecutive days of sham, low frequency (LF, 20 Hz) or high frequency (HF, 160 Hz) stimulation sessions (30 min/day). The animals underwent drug seeking tests on days 1, 15 and 30 of the withdrawal phase with context-induced relapse paired with a drug challenge (5 mg/kg i.p). Relapse rates were highest on day 15 after withdrawal, with both LF and HF attenuating cocaine during this drug-seeking test, however this was not the case for tests on days 1 and 30. Motivation to respond for saccharin solution (0.1 %) remained intact following both LF and HF stimulation intake sessions. These results demonstrate that unilateral DBS of the NAc effectively attenuated cocaine-seeking following chronic exposure to stimulation although these beneficial effects appeared to diminish following cessation of daily treatment with stimulation. The results obtained in this experiment provide support for DBS as a potential therapy for patients with treatment-resistant cases of substance use disorders.