Neuroimmune basis of methamphetamine toxicity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

88 Scopus citations


Although it is not known which antigen-specific immune responses (or if antigen-specific immune responses) are relevant or required for methamphetamine's neurotoxic effects, it is apparent that methamphetamine exposure is associated with significant effects on adaptive and innate immunity. Alterations in lymphocyte activity and number, changes in cytokine signaling, impairments in phagocytic functions, and glial activation and gliosis have all been reported. These drug-induced changes in immune response, particularly within the CNS, are now thought to play a critical role in the addiction process for methamphetamine dependence as well as for other substance use disorders. In Section 2, methamphetamine's effects on glial cell (e.g., microglia and astrocytes) activity and inflammatory signaling cascades are summarized, including how alterations in immune cell function can induce the neurotoxic and addictive effects of methamphetamine. Section 2 also describes neurotransmitter involvement in the modulation of methamphetamine's inflammatory effects. Section 3 discusses the very recent use of pharmacological and genetic animal models which have helped elucidate the behavioral effects of methamphetamine's neurotoxic effects and the role of the immune system. Section 4 is focused on the effects of methamphetamine on blood-brain barrier integrity and associated immune consequences. Clinical considerations such as the combined effects of methamphetamine and HIV and/or HCV on brain structure and function are included in Section 4. Finally, in Section 5, immune-based treatment strategies are reviewed, with a focus on vaccine development, neuroimmune therapies, and other anti-inflammatory approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Review of Neurobiology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742


  • Addiction
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Chemokine
  • Cytokine
  • Immunity
  • Methamphetamine
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Psychostimulants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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