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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1998 Aug;286(2):1074-85.

Long-term effects of amphetamine neurotoxicity on tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA and protein in aged rats.

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Division of Neurotoxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079-9502, USA.


Four injections (intraperitoneal) of 3 mg/kg amphetamine (2 hr apart) produced pronounced hyperthermia and sustained decreases in dopamine levels and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) protein levels in the striatum of 15-month-old male rats. A partial recovery of striatal dopamine levels was observed at 4 months after amphetamine. In contrast, TH mRNA and TH protein levels in the midbrain were unaffected at all time points tested up to 4 months after amphetamine treatment. The number of TH-immunopositive cells in the midbrain was also unchanged at 4 months after amphetamine, even though the number of TH-positive axons in the striatum remained dramatically decreased at this time point. Interestingly, TH-immunopositive cell bodies were observed 4 months after amphetamine in the lateral caudate/putamen, defined anteriorly by the genu of the corpus collosum and posteriorly by the junction of the anterior commissures; these striatal TH-positive cells were not observed in saline- or amphetamine-treated rats that did not become hyperthermic. In addition, low levels (orders of magnitude lower than that present in the midbrain) of TH mRNA were detected using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in the striatum of these amphetamine-treated rats. Our results suggest that even though there is a partial recovery of striatal dopamine levels, which occurs within 4 months after amphetamine treatment, this recovery is not associated with increased TH gene expression in the midbrain. Furthermore, new TH-positive cells are generated in the striatum at this 4-month time point.

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