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Keywords:

  • dopamine;
  • hyperthermia;
  • methamphetamine;
  • microglia;
  • neurotoxicity;
  • tolerance

Abstract

Methamphetamine causes persistent damage to dopamine nerve endings of the striatum. Repeated, intermittent treatment of mice with low doses of methamphetamine leads to the development of tolerance to its neurotoxic effects. The mechanisms underlying tolerance are not understood but clearly involve more than alterations in drug bioavailability or reductions in the hyperthermia caused by methamphetamine. Microglia have been implicated recently as mediators of methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity. The purpose of the present studies was to determine if a tolerance regimen of methamphetamine would attenuate the microglial response to a neurotoxic challenge. Mice treated with a low-dose methamphetamine tolerance regimen showed minor reductions in striatal dopamine content and low levels of microglial activation. When the tolerance regimen preceded a neurotoxic challenge of methamphetamine, the depletion of dopamine normally seen was significantly attenuated. The microglial activation that occurs after a toxic methamphetamine challenge was blunted likewise. Despite the induction of tolerance against drug-induced toxicity and microglial activation, a neurotoxic challenge with methamphetamine still caused hyperthermia. These results suggest that tolerance to methamphetamine neurotoxicity is associated with attenuated microglial activation and they further dissociate its neurotoxicity from drug-induced hyperthermia.