Archival Report| Volume 64, ISSUE 11, P958-965, December 01, 2008

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Varied Access to Intravenous Methamphetamine Self-Administration Differentially Alters Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis


      Chronic abuse of methamphetamine produces deficits in hippocampal function, perhaps by altering hippocampal neurogenesis and plasticity. We examined how intravenous methamphetamine self-administration modulates active division, proliferation of late progenitors, differentiation, maturation, survival, and mature phenotype of hippocampal subgranular zone (SGZ) progenitors.


      Adult male Wistar rats were given access to methamphetamine 1 hour twice weekly (intermittent short), 1 hour daily (short), or 6 hours daily (long). Rats received one intraperitoneal injection of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to label progenitors in the synthesis (S) phase, and 28-day-old surviving BrdU-immunoreactive (IR) cells were quantified. Ki-67, doublecortin (DCX), and activated caspase-3 (AC-3) were used to visualize and quantify proliferating, differentiating, maturing, and apoptotic cells. Terminal corticosterone was measured to determine changes in adrenal steroids.


      Intermittent access to methamphetamine increased Ki-67 and DCX-IR cells, but opposing effects on late progenitors and postmitotic neurons resulted in no overall change in neurogenesis. Daily access to methamphetamine decreased all studied aspects of neurogenesis and reduced hippocampal granule neurons and volume, changes that likely are mediated by decreased proliferative and neurogenic capacity of the SGZ. Furthermore, methamphetamine self-administration relative to the amount of methamphetamine intake produced a biphasic effect on hippocampal apoptosis and reduced corticosterone levels.


      Intermittent (occasional access) and daily (limited and extended access) self-administration of methamphetamine impact different aspects of neurogenesis, the former producing initial pro-proliferative effects and the latter producing downregulating effects. These findings suggest that altered hippocampal integrity by even modest doses of methamphetamine could account for pronounced pathology linked to methamphetamine abuse.

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