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Int Rev Neurobiol. 2012;102:147-71. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386986-9.00006-5.

Environmental conditions modulate neurotoxic effects of psychomotor stimulant drugs of abuse.

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Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse-Intramural Research Program (NIDA-IRP), NIH, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Psychomotor stimulants such as methamphetamine (METH), amphetamine, and 3,4-metylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) are potent addictive drugs. While it is known that their abuse could result in adverse health complications, including neurotoxicity, both the environmental conditions and activity states associated with their intake could strongly enhance drug toxicity, often resulting in life-threatening health complications. In this review, we analyze results of animal experiments that suggest that even moderate increases in environmental temperatures and physiological activation, the conditions typical of human raves parties, dramatically potentiate brain hyperthermic effects of METH and MDMA. We demonstrate that METH also induces breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, acute glial activation, brain edema, and structural abnormalities of various subtypes of brain cells; these effects are also strongly enhanced when the drug is used at moderately warm environmental conditions. We consider the mechanisms underlying environmental modulation of acute drug neurotoxicity and focus on the role of brain temperature, a critical homeostatic parameter that could be affected by metabolism-enhancing drugs and environmental conditions and affect neural activity and functions.

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