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Physical exercise rescues cocaine-evoked synaptic deficits in motor cortex
Molecular Psychiatry  (IF15.992),  Pub Date : 2021-10-22, DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01336-2
Tong Cheng, Xiao-Dan Huang, Xue-Fei Hu, Si-Qi Wang, Kai Chen, Ji-An Wei, Lan Yan, Kwok-Fai So, Ti-Fei Yuan, Li Zhang

Drug exposure impairs cortical plasticity and motor learning, which underlies the reduced behavioral flexibility in drug addiction. Physical exercise has been used to prevent relapse in drug rehabilitation program. However, the potential benefits and molecular mechanisms of physical exercise on drug-evoked motor-cortical dysfunctions are unknown. Here we report that 1-week treadmill training restores cocaine-induced synaptic deficits, in the form of improved in vivo spine formation, synaptic transmission, and spontaneous activities of cortical pyramidal neurons, as well as motor-learning ability. The synaptic and behavioral benefits relied on de novo protein synthesis, which are directed by the activation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)-ribosomal protein S6 pathway. These findings establish synaptic functional restoration and mTOR signaling as the critical mechanism supporting physical exercise training in rehabilitating the addicted brain.