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This study used animal models to examine potential similarities between dependence on physical activity (i.e., exercise) and dependence on morphine. Using C57BL/6 mice, the study also tested the hypothesis that physical exercise (e.g., long-term wheel running) may enhance vulnerability to the development of morphine dependence. The existence of an endorphin-related dependence induced by physical activity was also assessed. Naloxone was used to precipitate morphine withdrawal in mice accustomed to morphine. Specifically, the study sought to assess the intensity of addiction provoked by injection of morphine in mice that engaged in wheel-running activity as opposed to inactive mice. After 25 days of free access to activity wheel, mice that engaged in wheel-running demonstrated increased vulnerability to naloxone-induced withdrawal symptoms, which may be linked to activation of peripheral, as opposed to central, opioid receptors. These results indicate a behavioral interaction in which engaging in wheel running appears to potentiate the effects of morphine addiction. Implications of these findings for understanding human behavior and exercise addiction are also discussed.
Anthony Ferreira is now with Unité des Yersinia Institut Pasteur, Paris. e-mail: email@example.com. Fabien Cornilleaus, Fernando Perez-Diaz, and Charles Cohen-Salmon are with CNRS UMR 7593 Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris.