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J Toxicol Sci. 2012;37(4):773-90.

Methamphetamine causes anorexia in Drosophila melanogaster, exhausting metabolic reserves and contributing to mortality.

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Department of Entomology, 516/518 Morrill Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Methamphetamine (MA) appears to produce neurotoxic effects, in part, through disruptions of energy metabolism. A recent study of the whole-body proteome of Drosophila melanogaster showed many changes in energy metabolism-related proteins, leading us to hypothesize that MA toxicity may cause whole-body disruptions of energy metabolism. To test this, we monitored the response of energy reserves and other metabolites to MA-exposure with and without the addition of dietary glucose. We also monitored changes in feeding behavior, locomotor activity and respiration rates associated with MA-exposure to investigate how MA affects energy balance. We observed that glycogen and triglyceride levels decreased dramatically within 48 hr of MA-exposure, indicating a strongly negative caloric balance. Behavioral assays revealed that MA-treated flies decreased food consumption by 60-80% and exhibited a 2-fold increase in locomotion. Caloric expenditure decreased with MA-exposure, apparently due to a compensatory decrease in resting metabolism, showing that anorexia was the primary driver of the negative caloric balance. Additionally, we observed that glucose supplementation of MA-containing diet increased glycogen reserves by 44% at 48 hr, leading to a commensurate increase in survivorship. We conclude that dietary sugar supplementation enhances survivorship by partially compensating for decreased caloric intake resulting from MA-induced anorexia. The observation that MA produces similar behavioral changes in Drosophila and humans, i.e. increased locomotor activity and anorexia, further supports the use of Drosophila as a model organism for the study of the effects of MA.

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