Studies show exercise increases dopamine receptors

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Comments: Two studies that show that aerobic exercise increases in dopamine (D2) receptors. D2 receptors decrease with addictions, and are a major cause of desensitization. This study shows that long-term endurance training can increase dopamine D2 receptors in the reward circuitry (striatum).

Endurance training effects on striatal D2 dopamine receptor binding and striatal dopamine metabolite levels (1987)
Neurosci Lett. 1987 Aug 18;79(1-2):138-44.
MacRae PG, Spirduso WW, Cartee GD, Farrar RP, Wilcox RE.

Department of Health and Physical Education, College of Pharmacy, University of Texas, Austin 78712.

We have previously shown that endurance training is associated with higher binding of [3H]spiperone to striatal D2 dopamine (DA) receptors of presenescent (21 months old) rats. In the present study we investigated the effects of 6 months of endurance training of young adults on the relationship between steady-state levels of DA and its metabolites in striatum and the affinity and density of striatal D2 DA receptors. The extent of training was confirmed by evaluating the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in the subjects. D2 DA binding was significantly increased at each of 3 [3H]spiperone concentrations in the young runners. A 'synaptic coupling ratio' calculated as the specific DA binding/DOPAC concentration was significantly increased in runners for the 0.1 and 0.4 nM radioligand concentrations. Across experimental groups levels of DA were highly and positively correlated with specific DA binding at the 0.1, 0.2 and 0.4 nM [3H]spiperone concentrations. Together, these results suggest that exercise can alter the number of DA binding sites and the metabolism of DA in young adult animals.
Comments: Parkinson's patients increase dopamine D2 receptors with treadmill exercise. Addictions cause a decline in D2 receptors which is partly the cause of desensitization. Another reason to exercise.

Exercise elevates dopamine D2 receptor in a mouse model of Parkinsons disease In vivo imaging with (18F) fallypride
Movement Disorders
Volume 25, Issue 16, pages 2777-2784, 15 December 2010

Marta G. Vučcković MSc1,2, Quanzheng Li PhD3, Beth Fisher PT, PhD4, Angelo Nacca PhD5, Richard M. Leahy PhD3, John P. Walsh PhD6, Jogesh Mukherjee PhD7, Celia Williams BSc2, Michael W. Jakowec PhD2,4, Giselle M. Petzinger MD2,4*

The purpose of the current study was to examine changes in dopamine D2 receptor (DA-D2R) expression within the basal ganglia of MPTP mice subjected to intensive treadmill exercise. Using Western immunoblotting analysis of synaptoneurosomes and in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) imaging employing the DA-D2R specific ligand [18F]fallypride, we found that high intensity treadmill exercise led to an increase in striatal DA-D2R expression that was most pronounced in MPTP compared to saline treated mice.

Exercise-induced changes in the DA-D2R in the dopamine-depleted basal ganglia are consistent with the potential role of this receptor in modulating medium spiny neurons (MSNs) function and behavioral recovery. Importantly, findings from this study support the rationale for using PET imaging with [18F]fallypride to examine DA-D2R changes in individuals with Parkinson's Disease (PD) undergoing high-intensity treadmill training.

© 2010 Movement Disorder Society


Behold for the Lord hath spoken... for rats and mice anyways

So increased dopamine receptors, means that when dopamine is released in the brain more of it will get sucked up by these bad boys resulting in the increased perception of "reward" or whatever. Is this how people can get addicted to running and exercise, or is that much more strongly related to the endorphin opiate high, and how do the two interact? I guess they are distinctly different?

Yep, endorphins are involved

Yep, endorphins are involved as are endocannabinoids. Addiction to exercise appears to be somewhat the same as other addictions, except for a decline in D2 receptors and dopamine. There's an increase in delta fosb, which rewires the brain. Stopping exercise leads to withdrawal symptoms. Sensitization occurs - which cues (shoes) trigger dopamine and an urge to use (go running). Very little research on the rewarding apsects of exercie.

Your reward circuit evolved to keep you addicted to good things - food, sex, other humans, exercise, water - and to feel real shitty when you avoid these natural rewards.

So drugs utilize these reward mechanisms, and porn overdoes the sex circuits and mechanisms.
Long term voluntary wheel running is rewarding and produces plasticity in the mesolimbic reward pathway.
Behav Brain Res. 2011 Mar 1;217(2):354-62. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Greenwood BN, Foley TE, Le TV, Strong PV, Loughridge AB, Day HE, Fleshner M.
Department of Integrative Physiology, Center for Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA.

The mesolimbic reward pathway is implicated in stress-related psychiatric disorders and is a potential target of plasticity underlying the stress resistance produced by repeated voluntary exercise. It is unknown, however, whether rats find long-term access to running wheels rewarding, or if repeated voluntary exercise reward produces plastic changes in mesolimbic reward neurocircuitry. In the current studies, young adult, male Fischer 344 rats allowed voluntary access to running wheels for 6 weeks, but not 2 weeks, found wheel running rewarding, as measured by conditioned place preference (CPP). Consistent with prior reports and the behavioral data, 6 weeks of wheel running increased ΔFosB/FosB immunoreactivity in the nucleus accumbens (Acb). In addition, semi quantitative in situ hybridization revealed that 6 weeks of wheel running, compared to sedentary housing, increased tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA levels in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), increased delta opioid receptor (DOR) mRNA levels in the Acb shell, and reduced levels of dopamine receptor (DR)-D2 mRNA in the Acb core. Results indicate that repeated voluntary exercise is rewarding and alters gene transcription in mesolimbic reward neurocircuitry. The duration-dependent effects of wheel running on CPP suggest that as the weeks of wheel running progress, the rewarding effects of a night of voluntary wheel running might linger longer into the inactive cycle thus providing stronger support for CPP. The observed plasticity could contribute to the mechanisms by which exercise reduces the incidence and severity of substance abuse disorders, changes the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse, and facilitates successful coping with stress.

Interesting Find

Although I can't see where it quantifies the increase in D2 receptors. Study also mentions a duration of 6 months for endurance training. It's likely that one would already be 'fixed' from a 2-4 month reboot before they experience any benefits in terms of increased D2 receptor density.

But, a little exercise is always a good thing :)

The study just above your post

says 6 weeks causes definitive cahnges in D2 receptors, which means a whole of good was occuring before the end of the 6 week period. More than just dopamine is affected by exercise. The stress systems within the brain are modified. Stress neurotransmitters often initiate relapses.

Here's another 6-week experiment
Aerobic Exercise Decreases the Positive Reinforcing Effects of Cocaine
Published online 2008 June 27. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.05.006

Aerobic exercise can serve as an alternative, non-drug reinforcer in laboratory animals and has been recommended as a potential intervention for substance abusing populations. Unfortunately, relatively little empirical data have been collected that specifically address the possible protective effects of voluntary, long-term exercise on measures of drug self-administration. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of chronic exercise on sensitivity to the positive-reinforcing effects of cocaine in the drug self-administration procedure. Female rats were obtained at weaning and immediately divided into two groups. Sedentary rats were housed individually in standard laboratory cages that permitted no exercise beyond normal cage ambulation; exercising rats were housed individually in modified cages equipped with a running wheel. After 6 weeks under these conditions, rats were surgically implanted with venous catheters and trained to self-administer cocaine on a fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. Once self-administration was acquired, cocaine was made available on a progressive ratio schedule and breakpoints were obtained for various doses of cocaine. Sedentary and exercising rats did not differ in the time to acquire cocaine self-administration or responding on the fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. However, on the progressive ratio schedule, breakpoints were significantly lower in exercising rats than sedentary rats when responding was maintained by both low (0.3 mg/kg/infusion) and high (1.0 mg/kg/infusion) doses of cocaine. In exercising rats, greater exercise output prior to catheter implantation was associated with lower breakpoints at the high dose of cocaine. These data indicate that chronic exercise decreases the positive-reinforcing effects of cocaine and support the possibility that exercise may be an effective intervention in drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

Although the neuroanatomical locus of exercise’s positive-reinforcing effects are not known, neurochemical data suggest that exercise activates the same reward pathways that are activated by addictive drugs. For instance, acute bouts of exercise increase central dopamine concentrations (Heyes et al., 1988; Hattori et al., 1994; Meeusen et al., 1997; Petzinger et al., 2007), and chronic exercise leads to sustained increases in dopamine concentrations and compensatory alterations in dopamine binding proteins (Gilliam et al., 1984; MacRae et al., 1987; Fisher et al., 2004). Given that many addictive drugs produce their positive-reinforcing effects by increasing dopamine transmission in mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways (Goeders and Smith, 1983; Caine and Koob, 1994; Wise et al., 1995; Pich et al., 1997), chronic exercise may produce functional changes in these pathways that leave an organism less susceptible to their positive-reinforcing effects.

I second that . As a matter

I second that .

As a matter of fact, I have lost faith in the benefits of running as an exercise (unless its HIIT ) .When I was researching on the subject, I found out that aerobic exercise brings down testosterone levels, while strength training raises it . The more I looked into it , I was convinced that we have been misguided for the last few decades and running is detrimental to health. Time and more research will prove me right. :)

Besides if you train with weights, you automatically get the cardio benefits.

Note that there are many

Note that there are many different types of running. You can run a marathon or do a fast sprint. Both involve the use of different types of muscular vibers as well as different parts of the (an)aerobic system.

Running does have benefits. It increases your stamina, allows you to burn fat, strengthen your lower body to a reasonable degree and relieves stress. Personally I like the HIIT approach. I'm building up my running training interval style and this makes it a lot more fun.

Of course, strength training is really good. Besides just lifting weights I recommend doing bodyweight exercises, preferably gymnastic/acrobatic style exercises. For example: handstand variations, levers and training on rings and the pullup bar. Not only do you train many muscular groups at the same time, you also train the smaller muscle groups that have a stabilizing function. And not to mention the fact that you'll be able to do awesome feats of strength Wink

Both most importantly is to pick a workout style that keeps you going. I've been breakdancing for over 10 years now and I still love it (yes, I do that as well).

Hey man

Hey man

how long do you run usually then? For me I usually go for a 30 minute run or so. I've also tried HIT-intervals, but these sessions are usually done in 15 minutes :p. Or sooner haha.

Running is still great though, just don't run superlong. Another great form of cardio is swimming.

Born to Run

Nothing beats a 30 minute jog for purging your mind.

Have you guys read "Born to Run"? Turns out humans are one of the most effective long distance runners on the planet.

Most mammals can sprint faster than humans — having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.

And here is a ted talk by the author of Born to Run:

It seems that early humans used persistence hunting to catch animals. That basically means you chase an animal until he becomes exhausted and just lies down defenceless. How badass is that? Still practised today, as this video shows:

The reason so many people get hurt while jogging is because they use highly cushioned footwear which renders useless that excellent amortisation mechanism of the human leg.

“The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering.”—Leonardo Da Vinci

Check out the book, it totally blew my mind.

P.S. Love weight lifting as well.


Will some 1 please answer me..... i run and am planning to run more and more, and i exercise frequently, i dont know where about in this page i read that the dopamine receptors DECLINE!.. hey, will some 1 tell me?! may be my exercise is holding me back???