Chronic methamphetamine induces structural changes in frontal cortex neurons and upregulates type I interferons

Alice Coutinho, Claudia Flynn, Tricia H. Burdo, Ronald F. Mervis, Howard S. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


While methamphetamine-induced changes in brain neurotransmitters, their receptors, and transporters are well studied, the means by which methamphetamine abuse results in cognitive and behavioral abnormalities is unknown. Here, we administered methamphetamine chronically, in doses relevant to recreational usage patterns, to nonhuman primates. Neurostructural analysis revealed decreased dendritic material and loss of spines in frontal lobe neurons. Molecular examination demonstrated that type I interferons (interferon-alpha and interferon-beta) increased in the frontal lobe in response to chronic methamphetamine treatment, in correlation with the neuronal changes. Chronic methamphetamine thus results in significant changes in the primate brain, inducing cytokines and altering neuronal structure, both of which can contribute to functional abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-245
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008



  • Brain
  • Cortical neuron
  • Dendrites
  • Golgi
  • Interferon
  • Methamphetamine
  • Monkey
  • Nonhuman primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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