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Brain Res. 1998 Jan 26;782(1-2):219-27.

Methamphetamine-induced alterations in dopamine transporter function.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Repeated methamphetamine (METH) administration has been shown to produce differing neurochemical as well as behavioral effects in rats. This study was designed to examine the effects of acute and chronic METH exposure on uptake and release of [3H]dopamine (DA) in cultured midbrain dopamine neurons to determine if persistent neuronal adaptations ensue. In addition, we have assessed DA D2 receptor function to determine if chronic METH alters this receptor. Fetal midbrain cultures were exposed to METH (1, 10 microM) for 5 days and dopaminergic function examined 1 or 7 days after drug removal. The ability of METH to release [3H]DA was compared to other releasing agents as well as several potent uptake inhibitors. Chronic exposure to a release-promoting concentration of METH resulted in either no change or a reduction in [3H]DA release upon subsequent METH challenge. Pretreatment with METH was also found to cause a decrease in the Bmax for [3H]raclopride binding, suggesting that persistently elevated DA levels cause a downregulation of DA D2 receptors. Examination of transporter kinetics utilizing initial velocity of uptake revealed that METH treatment caused a significant decrease in affinity (K(m)) for the substrate (DA), while not altering the maximal velocity of uptake (Vmax). Binding studies with [125I]RTI-55 revealed that there was no alteration in either the Bmax or Kd for this ligand, suggesting that the changes induced by METH treatment are due to alterations in K(m) and not in the number of DA transport sites. The results from these studies indicate that METH treatment produces a modification in transporter function which may be associated with both the altered uptake and release of [3H]DA. These changes have broad implications for the regulation of transporter activity not only because of the relevance to pre-synaptic mechanisms controlling neurotransmission, but also to the importance of the neuronal adaptation that occurs in response to chronic METH exposure.

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