Methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity: role of peroxynitrite and neuroprotective role of antioxidants and peroxynitrite decomposition catalysts

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Jun;939:366-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb03646.x.


Oxidative stress, reactive oxygen (ROS), and nitrogen (RNS) species have been known to be involved in a multitude of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Both ROS and RNS have very short half-lives, thereby making their identification very difficult as a specific cause of neurodegeneration. Recently, we have developed a high performance liquid chromatography/electrochemical detection (HPLC/EC) method to identify 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), an in vitro and in vivo biomarker of peroxynitrite production, in cell cultures and brain to evaluate if an agent-driven neurotoxicity is produced by the generation of peroxynitrite. We show that a single or multiple injections of methamphetamine (METH) produced a significant increase in the formation of 3-NT in the striatum. This formation of 3-NT correlated with the striatal dopamine depletion caused by METH administration. We also show that PC12 cells treated with METH has significantly increased formation of 3-NT and dopamine depletion. Furthermore, we report that pretreatment with antioxidants such as selenium and melatonin can completely protect against the formation of 3-NT and depletion of striatal dopamine. We also report that pretreatment with peroxynitrite decomposition catalysts such as 5, 10,15,20-tetrakis(N-methyl-4'-pyridyl)porphyrinato iron III (FeTMPyP) and 5, 10, 15, 20-tetrakis (2,4,6-trimethyl-3,5-sulfonatophenyl) porphinato iron III (FETPPS) significantly protect against METH-induced 3-NT formation and striatal dopamine depletion. We used two different approaches, pharmacological manipulation and transgenic animal models, in order to further investigate the role of peroxynitrite. We show that a selective neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), significantly protect against the formation of 3-NT as well as striatal dopamine depletion. Similar results were observed with nNOS knockout and copper zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD)-overexpressed transgenic mice models. Finally, using the protein data bank crystal structure of tyrosine hydroxylase, we postulate the possible nitration of specific tyrosine moiety in the enzyme that can be responsible for dopaminergic neurotoxicity. Together, these data clearly support the hypothesis that the reactive nitrogen species, peroxynitrite, plays a major role in METH-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity and that selective antioxidants and peroxynitrite decomposition catalysts can protect against METH-induced neurotoxicity. These antioxidants and decomposition catalysts may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of psychostimulant addictions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agents / toxicity*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Indazoles / pharmacology
  • Methamphetamine / toxicity*
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • PC12 Cells
  • Rats
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tyrosine / drug effects*
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Indazoles
  • Nitrates
  • peroxynitric acid
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • Methamphetamine
  • NOS1 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I
  • Nos1 protein, rat
  • 7-nitroindazole
  • Dopamine