Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, may block the effects of methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug, scientists have found.
Resveratrol, which naturally occurs in coloured vegetables, fruits and especially grapes, is known to minimise the impact of Parkinson's disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease in those who maintain healthy diets or who regularly take resveratrol supplements.
Dennis Miller, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts & Science and researchers in the Center for Translational Neuroscience at University of Missouri focused on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in drug addiction.
Dopamine levels in the brain surge after methamphetamine use; this increase is associated with the motivation to continue using the drug, despite its adverse consequences.
However, with repeated methamphetamine use, dopamine neurons may degenerate causing neurological and behavioural impairments, similar to those observed in people with Parkinson's disease.
"Dopamine is critical to the development of methamphetamine addiction - the transition from using a drug because one likes or enjoys it to using the drug because one craves or compulsively uses it," Miller said.
"Resveratrol has been shown to regulate these dopamine neurons and to be protective in Parkinson's disease, a disorder where dopamine neurons degenerate; therefore, we sought to determine if resveratrol could affect methamphetamine-induced changes in the brain," Miller said.
Using procedures established by Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease research, rats received resveratrol once a day for seven days in about the same concentration as a human would receive from a healthy diet.
After a week of resveratrol, researchers measured how much dopamine was released by methamphetamine. They found that resveratrol significantly diminished methamphetamine's ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain.
Furthermore, resveratrol diminished methamphetamine's ability to increase activity in mice, a behaviour that models the hyperactivity observed in people that use the stimulant.
"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," Miller said.
The study was published in journal Neuroscience Letters.