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J Neurochem. 2007 Nov;103(3):1219-27. Epub 2007 Aug 7.

A rapid oxidation and persistent decrease in the vesicular monoamine transporter 2 after methamphetamine.

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Laboratory of Neurochemistry, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Methamphetamine (METH) produces long-term decreases in markers of dopamine (DA) terminals in animals and humans. A decrease in the function of the vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) has been associated with damage to striatal DA terminals caused by METH; however, a possible mechanism for this decrease in VMAT2 function has not been defined. The current study showed that METH caused a rapid decrease to 68% of controls in VMAT2 protein immunoreactivity of the vesicular fraction from striatal synaptosomes within 1 h after a repeated high-dose administration regimen of METH. This decrease was associated with a 75% increase in nitrosylation of VMAT2 protein in the synaptosomal fraction as measured by nitrosocysteine immunoreactivity of VMAT2 protein. The rapid decreases in VMAT2 persisted when evaluated 7 days later and were illustrated by decreases in VMAT2 immunoreactivity and DA content of the vesicular fraction to 34% and 51% of control values, respectively. The decreases were blocked or attenuated by prior injections of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, S-methyl-l-thiocitrulline. These studies demonstrate that METH causes a rapid neuronal nitric oxide synthase-dependent oxidation of VMAT2 and long-term decreases in VMAT2 protein and function. The results also suggest that surviving DA terminals after METH exposure may have a compromised capacity to buffer cytosolic DA concentrations and DA-derived oxidative stress.

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