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Methamphetamine abuse in young adults has long-term deleterious effects on brain function that are associated with damage to monoaminergic neurons. Administration of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) protects dopamine neurons from the toxic effects of methamphetamine in animal models. Therefore, we hypothesized that a partial GDNF gene deletion would increase the susceptibility of mice to methamphetamine neurotoxicity during young adulthood and possibly increase age-related deterioration of behavior and dopamine function. Two weeks after a methamphetamine binge (4 x 10 mg/kg, i.p., at 2 h intervals), GDNF +/- mice had a significantly greater reduction of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity in the medial striatum, a proportionally greater depletion of dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) levels in the striatum, and a greater increase in activated microglia in the substantia nigra than wild-type mice. At 12 months of age, methamphetamine-treated GDNF +/- mice exhibited less motor activity and lower levels oftyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactivity, dopamine, DOPAC, and serotoninthanwild-typemice. Greater striatal dopaminetransporter activity in GDNF +/- mice may underlie their differential response to methamphetamine. These data suggest the possibility that methamphetamine use in young adults, when combined with lower levels of GDNF throughout life, may precipitate the appearance of parkinsonian-like behaviors during aging.


Article written by researchers from the Departments of Neurosciences and Center on Aging, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina. Published in The Journal of Neuroscience, August 15, 2007, volume 27, number 33, pages 8816-8825. Includes abstract, references, diagrams, and black-and-white photographic illustrations.