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Neurosci Lett. 2004 Sep 9;367(3):349-54.

Microglial activation is a pharmacologically specific marker for the neurotoxic amphetamines.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 2125 Scott Hall, 540 E Canfield, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Neurotoxic amphetamines cause damage to monoamine nerve terminals of the striatum by unknown mechanisms. Microglial activation contributes to the neuronal damage that accompanies injury, disease, and inflammation, but a role for these cells in amphetamine-induced neurotoxicity has received little attention. We show presently that D-methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), D-amphetamine, and p-chloroamphetamine, each of which has been linked to dopamine (DA) or serotonin nerve terminal damage, result in microglial activation in the striatum. The non-neurotoxic amphetamines l-methamphetamine, fenfluramine, and DOI do not have this effect. All drugs that cause microglial activation also increase expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). At a minimum, microglial activation serves as a pharmacologically specific marker for striatal nerve terminal damage resulting only from those amphetamines that exert neurotoxicity. Because microglia are known to produce many of the reactive species (e.g., nitric oxide, superoxide, cytokines) that mediate the neurotoxicity of the amphetamine-class of drugs, their activation could represent an early and essential event in the neurotoxic cascade associated with high-dose amphetamine intoxication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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