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Methamphetamine-Triggered Neurotoxicity in Human Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex

Ali Zare, Alireza Ghanbari, Mohammad Javad Hoseinpour, Mahdi Eskandarian Boroujeni, Alimohammad Alimohammadi, Mohammad Amin Abdollahifar, Abbas Aliaghaei, Vahid Mansouri, Hamid Zaferani Arani
Background: Methamphetamine (MA), is an extremely addictive stimulant that adversely affects the central nervous system. Accumulating evidence indicates that molecular mechanisms such as oxidative stress, apoptosis, and autophagy are involved in the toxicity of MA. Considering experimental animal studies exhibiting MA-induced neurotoxicity, the relevance of these findings needs to be evidently elucidated in human MA users. It is generally assumed that multiple chemical substances released in the brain following MA-induced metabolic activation are primary factors underlying damage of neural cells. Hence, this study aimed to investigate the role of autophagy and apoptosis as well as oxidative stress in the brain of postmortem MA-induced toxicity. Materials and Methods: In this study, we determine the gene expression of autophagy and apoptosis, including BECN1, MAP1ALC3, CASP8, TP53, and BAX genes in ten healthy controls and ten chronic users of MA postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Also, we applied immunohistochemistry in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded human brain samples to analyze brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Also, spectrophotometry was performed to measure glutathione (GSH) content. Results: The expression level of apoptotic and autophagic genes (BECN1, MAP1ALC3, CASP8, TP53, and BAX) were significantly elevated, while GSH content and BDNF showed substantial reductions in DLPFC of chronic MA users. Discussion: Our data showed that MA addiction provokes transduction pathways, namely apoptosis and autophagy, along with oxidative mechanisms in DLPFC. Also, MA induces multiple functional and structural perturbations in the brain, determining its toxicity and possibly contributing to neurotoxicity. [GMJ.2021;10:e2016]
Methamphetamine; Prefrontal Cortex; Apoptosis; BDNF

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