CYP2D6 genotype may moderate measures of brain structure in methamphetamine users

Andy C. Dean, Erika L. Nurmi, Angelica M. Morales, Arthur K. Cho, Lauren C. Seaman, Edythe D. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Chronic methamphetamine use is linked to abnormalities in brain structure, which may reflect neurotoxicity related to metabolism of the drug. As the cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) enzyme is central to the metabolism of methamphetamine, genotypic variation in its activity may moderate effects of methamphetamine on brain structure and function. This study explored the relationship between CYP2D6 genotype and measures of brain structure and cognition in methamphetamine users. Based on the function of genetic variants, a CYP2D6 activity score was determined in 82 methamphetamine-dependent (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition [DSM-IV] criteria) and 79 healthy-control participants who completed tests of cognitive function (i.e., attention, memory, and executive function); most were also evaluated with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (66 methamphetamine-dependent and 52 controls). The relationship between CYP2D6 activity score and whole brain cortical thickness differed by group (interaction p = 0.024), as increasing CYP2D6 activity was associated with thinner cortical thickness in the methamphetamine users (β = −0.254; p = 0.035), but not in control subjects (β = 0.095; p = 0.52). Interactions between CYP2D6 activity and group were nonsignificant for hippocampal volume (ps > 0.05), but both hippocampi showed trends similar to those observed for cortical thickness (negative relationships in methamphetamine users [ps < 0.05], and no relationships in controls [ps > 0.50]). Methamphetamine users had lower cognitive scores than control subjects (p = 0.007), but there was no interaction between CYP2D6 activity score and group on cognition (p > 0.05). Results suggest that CYP2D6 genotypes linked to higher enzymatic activity may confer risk for methamphetamine-induced deficits in brain structure. The behavioral consequences of these effects are unclear and warrant additional investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12950
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • CYP2D6
  • brain structure
  • cognition
  • metabolism
  • methamphetamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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