, Volume 199, Issue 4, pp 637-650
Date: 29 May 2008

Effect of (+)-methamphetamine on path integration learning, novel object recognition, and neurotoxicity in rats

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Methamphetamine (MA) has been implicated in cognitive deficits in humans after chronic use. Animal models of neurotoxic MA exposure reveal persistent damage to monoaminergic systems but few associated cognitive effects.


Since questions have been raised about the typical neurotoxic dosing regimen used in animals and whether it adequately models human cumulative drug exposure, these experiments examined two different dosing regimens.

Materials and methods

Rats were treated with one of the two regimens: one based on the typical neurotoxic regimen (4 × 10 mg/kg every 2 h) and one based on pharmacokinetic modeling (Cho AK, Melega WP, Kuczenski R, Segal DS Synapse 39:161–166, 2001) designed to better represent accumulating plasma concentrations of MA as seen in human users (24 × 1.67 mg/kg once every 15 min) matched for total daily dose. In two separate experiments, dosing regimens were compared for their effects on markers of neurotoxicity or on behavior.


On markers of neurotoxicity, MA showed decreased dopamine (DA) and 5-HT, increased glial fibrillary acidic protein, and increased corticosterone levels regardless of dosing regimen 3 days post-treatment. Behaviorally, MA-treated groups, regardless of dosing regimen, showed hypoactivity, increased initial hyperactivity to a subsequent MA challenge, impaired novel object recognition, impaired learning in a multiple T water maze test of path integration, and no differences on spatial navigation or reference memory in the Morris water maze. After behavioral testing, reductions of DA and 5-HT remained.


MA treatment induces an effect on path integration learning not previously reported. Dosing regimen had no differential effects on behavior or neurotoxicity.