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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 286404, 10 pages
Research Article

Electroacupuncture Suppresses Discrete Cue-Evoked Heroin-Seeking and Fos Protein Expression in the Nucleus Accumbens Core in Rats

1Ningbo Addiction Research and Treatment Center, School of Medicine, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315010, China
2Laboratory of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
3Laboratory of Neuroscience, 81 Brain Hospital, Beijing 100700, China
4Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, Ningbo Addiction Research and Treatment Center, School of Medicine, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315010, China

Received 23 May 2011; Revised 8 September 2011; Accepted 26 October 2011

Academic Editor: Fengxia Liang

Copyright © 2012 Sheng Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Relapse to drug seeking was studied using a rodent model of reinstatement induced by exposure to drug-related cues. Here, we used intravenous drug self-administration procedures in rats to further investigate the beneficial effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on heroin-seeking behavior in a reinstatement model of relapse. We trained Sprague-Dawley rats to nose-poke for i.v. heroin either daily for 4 h or 25 infusions for 14 consecutive days. Then the rats were abstinent from heroin for two weeks. 2 Hz EA stimulation was conducted once daily for 14 days during heroin abstinence. We tested these animals for contextual and discrete cue-induced reinstatement of active responses. We also applied immunohistochemistry to detect Fos-positive nuclei in the nucleus accumbens (NACc) core and shell after reinstatement test. We found that active responses elicited by both contextual cues and discrete cues were high in the rats trained with heroin than in saline controls. EA treatment significantly reduced active responses elicited by discrete cues. EA stimulation attenuated Fos expression in the core but not the shell of the NACc. Altogether, these results highlight the therapeutic benefit of EA in preventing relapse to drug addiction.