Histological evidence supporting a role for the striatal neurokinin-1 receptor in methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity in the mouse brain

Brain Res. 2004 May 8;1007(1-2):124-31. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2004.01.077.


Several studies have documented the effect of methamphetamine (METH) on the toxicity of the dopamine (DA) terminals of the striatum but only a few studies have assessed the damaging effects of METH on striatal neurons postsynaptic to the nigrostriatal DA terminals. In the present study, we employed histological methods to study the effect of METH on DA terminals and striatal neurons. We also assessed the role of the striatal neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor on pre- and post-synaptic METH-induced damage. Male mice were treated with METH (10 mg/kg) four times at 2-h intervals and were sacrificed 3 days after the treatment. A number of animals received the non-peptide NK-1 receptor antagonist WIN-51,708 (10 mg/kg) 30 min before the first and fourth injections of METH. Immunocytochemical staining for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) showed significant deficits throughout all aspects of the caudate-putamen in animals exposed to METH. Pretreatment with WIN-51,708 prevented the METH-induced loss of TH immunostaining. Sections from a separate set of mice were stained with Fluoro-Jade B (FJB), a fluorochrome that binds specifically to degenerating fibers and cell bodies of neurons. Treatment with METH shows Fluoro-Jade B positive cell bodies in the striatum and pretreatment with WIN-51,708 abolished Fluoro-Jade B staining. Moreover, double labeling with Fluoro-Jade B and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) shows reactive astrocytosis in the area adjacent to the Fluoro-Jade B-positive cells but no Fluoro-Jade B staining of the astrocytes. This observation suggests that the degenerating cells must be striatal neurons and not astrocytes. The data demonstrate that METH induces pre- and post-synaptic damage in the striatum and the damage can be prevented with pharmacological blockade of the NK-1 receptor. These findings represent a new direction in the study of the mechanism of toxicity to METH and could be useful in the treatment of some neurological disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androstanes / pharmacology
  • Androstanes / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Benzimidazoles / pharmacology
  • Benzimidazoles / therapeutic use
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Cell Count
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Nerve Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Nerve Degeneration / drug therapy
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / metabolism*
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / physiology*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Androstanes
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1
  • WIN 51708
  • fluoro jade
  • Methamphetamine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase