Long-term post-synaptic consequences of methamphetamine on preprotachykinin mRNA expression


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kristen A. Keefe, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah, 30 South 2000 East, Room 201, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. E-mail: K.Keefe@m.cc.utah.edu


Exposure to repeated high doses of methamphetamine produces long-term toxicity to central monoamine systems and alters striatonigral pathway function 3 weeks after exposure. To determine whether these changes in the striatonigral pathway persist for longer we examined neuropeptide mRNA expression in the striatum and cytochrome oxidase activity in the output nuclei of the basal ganglia after treatment with multiple high doses of methamphetamine. Rats exposed to multiple high doses of methamphetamine had significant depletion in dopamine and serotonin content, decreases in tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, and decreases in preprotachykinin mRNA expression, 6 and 12 weeks after methamphetamine treatment. Preprotachykinin mRNA expression was significantly reduced by ∼20% in the middle striatum and ∼32% in the caudal striatum, 6 weeks after treatment. Twelve weeks after treatment, preprotachykinin mRNA expression continued to be significantly reduced by ∼20% in the middle striatum and ∼14% in the caudal striatum. Cytochrome oxidase histochemical staining in the entopeduncular nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata was not significantly different from that in controls at either timepoint. These data suggest that neurotoxic regimens of methamphetamine induce changes in striatonigral neurons that persist for up to 3 months, although there is some recovery.