Differential regulation of immediate-early gene expression in the prefrontal cortex of rats with a high vs low behavioral response to methamphetamine

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Nov;31(11):2359-67. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301162. Epub 2006 Jul 19.


Methamphetamine (METH) administration mimics many of the symptoms of mania and can produce psychosis after chronic use. Both rodents and man display interindividual variation in response to METH. The molecular mechanisms underlying these differences might be relevant to both stimulant addiction and endogenous psychosis. We treated 50 Sprague-Dawley rats acutely with METH (4.0 mg/kg) and 10 control rats with saline, and measured their behavior for 3 h after drug administration. Animals were divided into high responders (HR) (top 20%) and low responders (LR) (lowest 20%) based on their stereotypy response. They were killed 24 h after injection. Total RNA was extracted from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the expression of approximately 30 000 transcripts were analyzed using Affymetrix 230 2.0 GeneChips. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to validate the expression of a select group of genes. Forty-three genes exhibited significant differences in expression in HR vs LR 24 h after METH treatment including a group of immediate-early genes (IEGs) (eg, c-fos, junB, NGFI-B, serum-regulated glucocorticoid kinase). These IEG expression differences were accompanied by the significant downregulation of many of these genes compared to saline in the HR but not LR, suggesting a differential responsiveness of signal transduction pathways in these two groups of rats. In addition, the expression of other transcription factors in the PFC was significantly different in HR compared to LR. These gene expression changes may contribute to individual differences in responsiveness to stimulants and the development of mania and psychosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Immediate-Early Proteins / genetics
  • Immediate-Early Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Methamphetamine