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Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Apr 1;607(1-3):68-73.

Methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic deficits and refractoriness to subsequent treatment.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah, 30 South 2000 East, Room 201, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Repeated high-dose methamphetamine administrations can cause persistent dopaminergic deficits. As individuals abusing methamphetamine are often exposed to recurrent high-dose administration, the impact of its repeated exposure merits investigation. Accordingly, rats were pretreated with repeated high-dose injections of methamphetamine, and subsequently "challenged" with the same neurotoxic regimen 7 or 30 days later. Results revealed that the initial methamphetamine treatment caused persistent deficits in striatal dopamine levels, dopamine transporter function, and vesicular monoamine transporter-2 function. The subsequent methamphetamine challenge treatment was without further persistent effects on these parameters, as assessed 7 days after the challenge, regardless of the interval (7 or 30 days) between the initial and challenge drug exposures. Similarly, a methamphetamine challenge treatment administered 7 days after the initial drug treatment was without further acute effect on dopamine transporter or VMAT-2 function, as assessed 1 h later. Thus, this study describes a model of resistance, possibly explained by: 1) the existence of dopaminergic neurons that are a priori refractory to deficits caused by methamphetamine; 2) the existence of dopaminergic neurons made persistently resistant consequent to a neurotoxic methamphetamine exposure; and/or 3) altered activation of post-synaptic basal ganglia systems necessary for the elaboration of methamphetamine-induced dopamine neurotoxicity.

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