Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-term methadone treatment can affect nerve cells in brain

Date:
August 15, 2012
Source:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Summary:
Long-term methadone treatment can cause changes in the brain, according to recent studies. The results show that treatment may affect the nerve cells in the brain. The studies follow on from previous studies where methadone was seen to affect cognitive functioning, such as learning and memory.

Long-term methadone treatment can cause changes in the brain, according to recent studies from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The results show that treatment may affect the nerve cells in the brain. The studies follow on from previous studies where methadone was seen to affect cognitive functioning, such as learning and memory.

Since it is difficult to perform controlled studies of methadone patients and unethical to attempt in healthy volunteers, rats were used in the studies. Previous research has shown that methadone can affect cognitive functioning in both humans and experimental animals.

Sharp decrease in key signaling molecule

Rats were given a daily dose of methadone for three weeks. Once treatment was completed, brain areas which are central for learning and memory were removed and examined for possible neurobiological changes or damage.

In one study, on the day after the last exposure to methadone, there was a significant reduction (around 70 per cent) in the level of a signal molecule which is important in learning and memory, in both the hippocampus and in the frontal area of the brain. This reduction supports findings from a previous study (Andersen et al., 2011) where impaired attention in rats was found at the same time. At this time, methadone is no longer present in the brain. This indicates that methadone can lead to cellular changes that affect cognitive functioning after the drug has left the body, which may be cause for concern.

No effect on cell generation

The second study, a joint project with Southwestern University in Texas, investigated whether methadone affects the formation of nerve cells in the hippocampus. Previous research has shown that new nerve cells are generated in the hippocampus in both adult humans and rats, and that this formation is probably important for learning and memory. Furthermore, it has been shown that other opiates such as morphine and heroin can inhibit this formation. It was therefore reasonable to assume that methadone, which is also an opiate, would have the same effect.

However, the researchers did not find any change in the generation of new nerve cells after long-term methadone treatment. If the same is true in humans, this is probably more positive for methadone patients than continuing with heroin. However, the researchers do not know what effect methadone has on nerve cells that have previously been exposed to heroin.

Large gaps in knowledge

Since the mid-1960s, methadone has been used to treat heroin addiction. This is considered to be a successful treatment but, despite extensive and prolonged use, little is known about possible side effects. There are large knowledge gaps in this field.

Our studies show that prolonged methadone treatment can affect the nerve cells, and thus behaviour, but the results are not always as expected. Many more pre-clinical and clinical studies are needed to understand methadone's effect on the brain, how this can result in altered cognitive function, and, if so, how long these changes last. Knowledge of this is important -- both for the individual methadone patient and the outcome of treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Jannike M. Andersen, Christine Klykken, Jørg Mørland. Long-term methadone treatment reduces phosphorylation of CaMKII in rat brain. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2012; 64 (6): 843 DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2012.01469.x
  2. Aparna Sankararaman, Irene Masiulis, Devon R. Richardson, Jannike M. Andersen, Jørg Mørland, Amelia J. Eisch. Methadone does not alter key parameters of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in the heroin-naïve rat. Neuroscience Letters, 2012; 516 (1): 99 DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.03.066

Cite This Page:

Norwegian Institute of Public Health. "Long-term methadone treatment can affect nerve cells in brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082707.htm>.
Norwegian Institute of Public Health. (2012, August 15). Long-term methadone treatment can affect nerve cells in brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082707.htm
Norwegian Institute of Public Health. "Long-term methadone treatment can affect nerve cells in brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082707.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) — The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins