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Natural compound resveratrol minimizes effects of methamphetamine abuse

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Could a red wine habit help cure a meth addiction?

Resveratrol, a natural chemical compound found in grapes, red wine and colored vegetables, has been shown to help minimize the effects of Parkinson's disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease - and now also methamphetamine addiction.

The role of dopamine

For the study, researchers from the University of Missouri looked at the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in methamphetamine use. After using the drug, dopamine levels surge - a process that leads to continued use of the drug and strong motivation to use more of it to repeat the high. Yet with repeated use, dopamine neurons can degenerate, leading to neurological and behavioral impairments like those seen in Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

In previous studies, resveratrol has been shown to have protective properties that guard against dopamine nueron degeneration.

"Therefore, we sought to determine if resveratrol could affect methamphetamine-induced changes in the brain," said Dennis Miller, lead study author.

The study

Using a rat model, Miller and his team gave the animals resveratrol once a day for seven days in concentrations that would be similar to what a human would get from a healthy diet. Then the researchers measured how much dopamine was released in the rats' brains after methamphetamine use.

Results showed that resveratrol had the ability to diminish methamphetamine's ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. It also appeared to help reduce the hyperactivity associated with meth use - a common symptom of most addicts.

"People are encouraged by physicians and dieticians to include resveratrol-containing products in their diet and protection against methamphetamine's harmful effects may be an added bonus," Miller concluded. "Additionally, there are no consistently effective treatments to help people who are dependent on methamphetamine. Our initial research suggests that resveratrol could be included in a treatment regimen for those addicted to methamphetamine and it has potential to decrease the craving and desire for the drug."

The study is published in the journal Neuroscience Letters.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia.