Acute changes in the retina and central retinal artery with methamphetamine

Exp Eye Res. 2020 Apr;193:107964. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2020.107964. Epub 2020 Feb 7.


Methamphetamine (METH), an addictive stimulant of neurotransmitters, is associated with cardiovascular and neurological diseases. METH-induced ophthalmic complications are also present but have been insufficiently investigated. The purpose of this study is to investigate the retinal effects of METH. C57BL/6 mice were administrated progressively increasing doses of METH (0-6 mg/kg) by repetitive intraperitoneal injections for 5 days (4 times per day). Retinal degeneration was examined by morphological changes and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Norepinephrine levels were measured by ELISA, protein expression levels were determined by immunoblot and immunostaining, and gelatinase activity was examined by zymography. The thickness of the retina and the number of nuclei in the inner and outer nuclear layers were decreased by METH. Retinal cell death and astrocyte activation by METH treatment were confirmed by TUNEL assay and glial fibrillary acidic protein expression, respectively. Increased tumor necrosis factor-α protein in the retina and elevated norepinephrine levels in plasma were found in METH-treated mice. Platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) protein expression level was decreased in the retina and central retinal artery (CRA) by METH treatment, along with the endothelial proteoglycans glypican-1 and syndecan-1. Moreover, a regulator of the extracellular matrix, matrix metalloproteinase-14 (MMP-14) in the retina, and MMP-2 and MMP-9 in plasma, were increased by METH treatment. In conclusion, METH administration is involved in retinal degeneration with a vascular loss of PECAM-1 and the glycocalyx in the CRA and retina, and an increase of MMPs.

Keywords: Endothelium; Glycocalyx; Matrix metalloproteinases; Methamphetamine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacokinetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroretinography
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Immunoblotting
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retinal Artery / drug effects
  • Retinal Artery / pathology*
  • Retinal Degeneration / chemically induced
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism
  • Retinal Degeneration / pathology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methamphetamine