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Francis Chaouloff

Last update Thursday 20 June 2019

Neurobiological bases of the rewarding value of exercise


Neurocentre Magendie INSERM U1215
Bordeaux Neurocampus, University of Bordeaux 

Rodent studies, using conditioned place preference protocols, cue- or drug priming-induced reinstatement of reward seeking, and withdrawal severity tests, have suggested that exercise practice might be a useful tool in the treatment of drug relapse. To date, a review of clinical studies examining the influence of exercise on withdrawal symptoms and craving for several drugs of abuse (e.g. nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine) strengthens the above hypothesis. Taken with growing evidence that exercise also bears addictive properties in susceptible individuals, these data suggest that exercise and the aforementioned drugs of abuse share common pathways, one of these being the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic system. Although there is indirect preclinical support for this system being a target of exercise, the model used, i.e. home cage wheel-running, impedes an analysis of the neurobiology underlying exercise motivation, including in drug-dependent animals. The presentation will focus on our development of a mouse operant conditioning task which has helped to uncover the unique role of ventral tegmental area cannabinoid type-1 receptors in running motivation. More recent data linking craving for exercise with synaptic plasticity in mesolimbic dopaminergic systems will also be presented.