Chronic stress augments the long-term and acute effects of methamphetamine

L. Matuszewich, B. K. Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


There is growing evidence that exposure to stress alters the acute effects of abused drugs on the CNS. However, it is not known whether stress augments the longer-term neurotoxic effects of psychostimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine. Methamphetamine at high doses decreases forebrain dopamine concentrations. The current study tested the hypothesis that 10 days of unpredictable stress augmented striatal dopamine depletions 7 days following four injections of either 7.5 or 10 mg/kg methamphetamine (1 injection every 2 h). Furthermore, to assess the effects of chronic stress on immediate responses to methamphetamine, extracellular striatal dopamine and methamphetamine concentrations, and rectal temperature were monitored during the methamphetamine injection regimen. Seven days following either a 7.5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg methamphetamine injection regimen, male rats exposed to unpredictable stress showed greater depletions in striatal dopamine tissue content compared with non-stressed controls injected with methamphetamine. Stressed rats had increased hyperthermic responses and dopamine efflux in the striatum during the methamphetamine injections when compared with non-stressed control rats. Moreover, stressed rats had an increased mortality rate (33%) compared with non-stressed controls (16.7%) following four injections of 10 mg/kg methamphetamine. The enhanced acute and longer-term effects of methamphetamine in stressed rats was not due to a greater concentrations of methamphetamine in the striatum, as extracellular levels of methamphetamine during the injection regimen did not differ between the two groups. In summary, exposure to 10 days of chronic unpredictable stress augments longer-term depletions of dopamine in the striatum, as well as acute methamphetamine-induced hyperthermia and extracellular dopamine levels. These findings suggest that chronic stress increases the responsiveness of the brain to the acute pharmacological effects of methamphetamine and enhances the vulnerability of the brain to the neurotoxic effects of psychostimulants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-646
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • Hyperthermia
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Psychostimulants
  • Striatum
  • Unpredictable stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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