Methamphetamine acts on subpopulations of neurons regulating sexual behavior in male rats.
Methamphetamine (Meth) is a highly addictive stimulant. Meth abuse is commonly associated with the practice of sexual risk behavior and increased prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Meth users report heightened sexual desire, arousal, and sexual pleasure. The biological basis for this drug-sex nexus is unknown. The current study demonstrates that Meth administration in male rats activates neurons in brain regions of the mesolimbic system that are involved in the regulation of sexual behavior. Specifically, Meth and mating co-activate cells in the nucleus accumbens core and shell, basolateral amygdala, and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings illustrate that in contrast to current belief drugs of abuse can activate the same cells as a natural reinforcer, that is sexual behavior, and in turn may influence compulsive seeking of this natural reward.