Cocaine and methamphetamine differentially affect opioid peptide mRNA expression in the striatum

J Neurochem. 2000 Nov;75(5):2061-70. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2000.0752061.x.


In general, administration of methamphetamine and cocaine alters preprodynorphin and preproenkephalin mRNA levels in striatum. However, no study has directly compared the effects of these stimulants on opioid peptides in striatum. This study used in situ hybridization to compare directly the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine on preprodynorphin and preproenkephalin mRNAs in distinct striatal regions. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received a single administration of 15 mg/kg methamphetamine or 30 mg/kg cocaine and were killed 30 min or 3 h later. Methamphetamine and cocaine differentially affected preprodynorphin mRNA in striatum after 3 h. Densitometric analysis of film autoradiograms revealed that cocaine, but not methamphetamine, significantly increased preprodynorphin. This effect was seen throughout rostral striatum and dorsally in caudal striatum. However, specific analysis of "patches" in which preprodynorphin expression is high revealed a significantly greater effect of methamphetamine versus cocaine. In contrast, both cocaine and methamphetamine had similar effects on preproenkephalin mRNA, decreasing levels after 30 min in rostral striatum and in the core of nucleus accumbens. These data suggest that methamphetamine and cocaine have distinct postsynaptic consequences on striatal neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dynorphins / genetics
  • Dynorphins / metabolism
  • Enkephalins / genetics
  • Enkephalins / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism
  • Opioid Peptides / genetics
  • Opioid Peptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Enkephalins
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • pre-prodynorphin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Dynorphins
  • preproenkephalin
  • Cocaine