Neurotoxicity of methamphetamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine

Laura E. Halpin, Stuart A. Collins, Bryan K. Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

95 Scopus citations


Amphetamines are a class of psychostimulant drugs that are widely abused for their stimulant, euphoric, empathogenic and hallucinogenic properties. Many of these effects result from acute increases in dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission. Subsequent to these acute effects, methamphetamine and 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) produce persistent damage to dopamine and serotonin nerve terminals. This review summarizes the numerous interdependent mechanisms including excitotoxicity, mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress that have been demonstrated to contribute to this damage. Emerging non-neuronal mechanisms by which the drugs may contribute to monoaminergic terminal damage, as well as the neuropsychiatric consequences of this terminal damage are also presented. Methamphetamine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) have similar chemical structures and pharmacologic properties compared to other abused substances including cathinone (khat), as well as a relatively new class of novel synthetic amphetamines known as 'bath salts' that have gained popularity among drug abusers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 27 2014



  • 3-4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Methamphetamine
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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