Methamphetamine (METH) enhances dopamine (DA) transmission in the mesolimbic system implicated in its reinforcing effects. Our previous studies have shown that acupuncture attenuates drug-seeking behaviors by modulating GABAergic transmission in the ventral tegmental area and DA release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of the striatum. The effects of acupuncture on METH-induced behaviors and its mediation by neural pathways remain a relatively understudied area of research. The central amygdala (CeA) plays a critical role in physiological and behavioral responses to somatosensory and drug stimuli and has been implicated in negative reinforcement. Thus, we evaluated the role of the CeA in acupuncture effects on locomotor activity, positive affective states, and DA release in the NAc following acute administration of METH. Acupuncture at acupoint HT7 reduced locomotor activity, 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), and NAc DA release following systemic injection of METH, which was prevented by electrolytic lesions or optogenetic inhibition of the CeA. Acupuncture alone excited CeA neurons and reversed the suppression of CeA neurons induced by METH. These results suggest that acupuncture can relieve psychomotor responses and positive affective states following METH by inhibiting NAc DA release and this effect is mediated by activation of CeA neurons.
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