Meth math: Modeling temperature responses to methamphetamine

Yaroslav I. Molkov, Maria V. Zaretskaia, Dmitry V. Zaretsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Methamphetamine (Meth) can evoke extreme hyperthermia, which correlates with neurotoxicity and death in laboratory animals and humans. The objective of this study was to uncover the mechanisms of a complex dose dependence of temperature responses to Meth by mathematical modeling of the neuronal circuitry. On the basis of previous studies, we composed an artificial neural network with the core comprising three sequentially connected nodes: excitatory, medullary, and sympathetic preganglionic neuronal (SPN). Meth directly stimulated the excitatory node, an inhibitory drive targeted the medullary node, and, in high doses, an additional excitatory drive affected the SPN node. All model parameters (weights of connections, sensitivities, and time constants) were subject to fitting experimental time series of temperature responses to 1, 3, 5, and 10 mg/kg Meth. Modeling suggested that the temperature response to the lowest dose of Meth, which caused an immediate and short hyperthermia, involves neuronal excitation at a supramedullary level. The delay in response after the intermediate doses of Meth is a result of neuronal inhibition at the medullary level. Finally, the rapid and robust increase in body temperature induced by the highest dose of Meth involves activation of high-dose excitatory drive. The impairment in the inhibitory mechanism can provoke a life-threatening temperature rise and makes it a plausible cause of fatal hyperthermia in Meth users. We expect that studying putative neuronal sites of Meth action and the neuromediators involved in a detailed model of this system may lead to more effective strategies for prevention and treatment of hyperthermia induced by amphetamine-like stimulants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R552-R566
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2014


  • Amphetamines
  • Artificial neural network
  • Body temperature
  • Hyperthermia
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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