Comparative effects of amphetamine-like psychostimulants on rat hippocampal cell genesis at different developmental ages

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The aim of this study was to compare the effects of amphetamine-like psychostimulant drugs (i.e., MDMA, methamphetamine, D-amphetamine) on rat hippocampal cell genesis at different developmental ages (i.e., early adolescence vs. young adulthood) to determine if there were periods of vulnerability to drug-induced brain changes. Although adolescence is a period of great vulnerability to the neurochemical effects of specific drugs of abuse, several reports suggest that adult rats are more susceptible than adolescents to the negative effects of these drugs. The main results suggest that the effects of these amphetamine drugs on cell genesis depend on the rat's developmental age, with the young adult period being more sensitive than the early adolescent one. In particular, MDMA and methamphetamine, but not D-amphetamine impaired hippocampal cell genesis (i.e., cell proliferation and cell survival) in young adult rats. These effects were dependent on the accumulative dose administered, as they were only observed with the highest dose tested (12 pulses of 5 mg/kg over 4 days: 60 mg/kg total). The present results extend previous reports on adolescent insensitivity (i.e., better adaptation) to amphetamine-drugs and suggest for young adult rats certain degree of hippocampal damage that may mediate some of the addiction-like behaviors that depend on this brain region. Moreover, the present results, in line with previous data, suggest a possible role for the neuroplasticity marker BDNF and serotonin in regulating cell survival, as mBDNF protein regulation paralleled hippocampal cell survival and 5-HT2C-receptor content in young adult rats treated with these psychostimulant drugs.

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