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Pure Appl. Chem., 2000, Vol. 72, No. 6, pp. 1001-1006

Role of neuronal nitric oxide in methamphetamine neurotoxicity and protection by nNOS inhibitor

D. Desaiah1*, S. L. N. Reddy1, S. Z. Imam2 and S. F. Ali2

1 Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA
2 Division of Neurotoxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA

Abstract: Methamphetamine (METH) is a potent psychostimulant known to produce neurotoxicity. The dopaminergic pathway is particularly sensitive to METH. Recent studies showed that 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), a selective inhibitor of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), provided protection against METH neurotoxicity both in vitro and in vivo. The present studies were conducted to determine the nNOS activity in various regions of the brain of young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats treated with different doses of METH. Rats were injected ip with 5, 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg and 24 h after the rats were sacrificed and the brain regions (hippocampus, frontal cortex, and cerebellum) were quickly dissected. The cytosolic fractions were prepared, and the nNOS activity was determined using the 3H-citrulline assay. The results showed that nNOS activity was significantly increased in all three brain regions of rats treated with METH. The increase was dose dependent reaching a maximum of 40-100% over the control values. Rats treated with 7NI 30 min prior to METH injection provided protection against the toxicity and also showed a reduction of nNOS activity. The activation of nNOS is known to increase the synthesis of NO which is involved in the regulation of several neurotransmitter pathways including catecholaminergic system. Reducing the METH-induced production of NO by pretreatment with selective inhibitor of nNOS, 7-NI, provided protection against METH neurotoxicity.