Substance-use disorder represents a frequently hidden non-communicable chronic disease. Patients with intravenous drug addiction are at high risk of direct exposure to a variety of viral infections and are considered to be the largest subpopulation infected with the hepatitis C virus. Ribavirin is a synthetic nucleoside analog that has been used as an integral component of hepatitis C therapy. However, ribavirin medication is quite often associated with pronounced psychiatric adverse effects. It is not well understood to what extent ribavirin per se contributes to changes in drug-related neurobehavioral disturbances, especially in the case of psychostimulant drugs such as amphetamine. It is now well-known that repeated amphetamine usage produces psychosis in humans and behavioral sensitization in animals. On the other hand, ribavirin has an affinity for adenosine A1 receptors that antagonistically modulate the activity of dopamine D1 receptors, which play a critical role in the development of behavioral sensitization. This review will focus on the current knowledge of neurochemical/neurobiological changes that exist in the psychostimulant drug-addicted brain itself and the antipsychotic-like efficiency of adenosine agonists. Particular attention will be paid to the potential side effects of ribavirin therapy, and the opportunities and challenges related to its application in already existing psychostimulant-use disorder.
Keywords: ribavirin, adenosine, amphetamine, brain, antipsychotic efficiency, physiological response
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