Chronic administration of amphetamines disturbs development of neural progenitor cells in young adult nonhuman primates

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The detrimental effects of amphetamines on developmental stages of NPCs are limited to rodent brain and it is not known if these effects occur in nonhuman primates which are the focus of the current investigation. Young adult rhesus macaques either experienced MDMA only, a combination of amphetamines (MDMA, MDA and methamphetamine) or no amphetamines (controls) and hippocampal tissue was processed for immunohistochemical analysis.Quantitative stereological analysis showed that intermittent exposure to MDMA or the three amphetamines over 9.6months causes >80% decrease in the number of Ki-67 cells (actively dividing NPCs) and >50% decrease in the number of NeuroD1 cells (NPCs that have attained a neuronal phenotype). Co-labeling analysis revealed distinct, actively dividing hippocampal NPCs in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus that were in transition from stem-like radial glia-like cells (type-1) to immature transiently amplifying neuroblasts (type-2a, type-2b, and type-3).MDMA-alone and the combination reduced the number of dividing type-1 and type-3 NPCs and cells that were not NPCs. These data indicate that amphetamines interfere with the division and migration of NPCs. Notably, the reduction in the number of NPCs and immature neurons were not associated with changes in cell death (via apoptosis) or granule cell neuron numbers, indicating that amphetamines selectively affected the generation and maturation of newly born granule cell neurons. In sum, our findings suggest that alterations in the cellular composition in the dentate gyrus during chronic exposure to amphetamines can effect neuroplasticity in the hippocampus and influence functional properties of hippocampal neurons.HIGHLIGHTSAmphetamines reduce proliferation and immature neurons in the nonhuman primate hippocampus.Reduced number of progenitors is due to alterations in the proportion of neural progenitor cells undergoing cell division.Reduced number of progenitors is not related to enhanced apoptosis or loss of granule cell neurons in the hippocampus.

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