Neuropharmacological Evidence Implicating Drug-Induced Glutamate Receptor Dysfunction in Affective and Cognitive Sequelae of Subchronic Methamphetamine Self-Administration in Mice

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Feb 5;25(3):1928. doi: 10.3390/ijms25031928.


Methamphetamine (MA) is a highly addictive drug, and MA use disorder is often comorbid with anxiety and cognitive impairment. These comorbid conditions are theorized to reflect glutamate-related neurotoxicity within the frontal cortical regions. However, our prior studies of MA-sensitized mice indicate that subchronic, behaviorally non-contingent MA treatment is sufficient to dysregulate glutamate transmission in mouse brain. Here, we extend this prior work to a mouse model of high-dose oral MA self-administration (0.8, 1.6, or 3.2 g/L; 1 h sessions × 7 days) and show that while female C57BL/6J mice consumed more MA than males, MA-experienced mice of both sexes exhibited some signs of anxiety-like behavior in a behavioral test battery, although not all effects were concentration-dependent. No MA effects were detected for our measures of visually cued spatial navigation, spatial learning, or memory in the Morris water maze; however, females with a history of 3.2 g/L MA exhibited reversal-learning deficits in this task, and mice with a history of 1.6 g/L MA committed more working-memory incorrect errors and relied upon a non-spatial navigation strategy during the radial-arm maze testing. Relative to naïve controls, MA-experienced mice exhibited several changes in the expression of certain glutamate receptor-related proteins and their downstream effectors within the ventral and dorsal areas of the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala, many of which were sex-selective. Systemic pretreatment with the mGlu1-negative allosteric modulator JNJ 162596858 reversed the anxiety-like behavior expressed by MA-experienced mice in the marble-burying test, while systemic pretreatment with NMDA or the NMDA antagonist MK-801 bi-directionally affected the MA-induced reversal-learning deficit. Taken together, these data indicate that a relatively brief history of oral MA is sufficient to induce some signs of anxiety-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction during early withdrawal that reflect, at least in part, MA-induced changes in the corticolimbic expression of certain glutamate receptor subtypes of potential relevance to treating symptoms of MA use disorder.

Keywords: Group 1 mGluR; NMDA receptor; anxiety; reversal learning; sex differences; spatial learning; working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Methamphetamine* / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Glutamate


  • Methamphetamine
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid