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Acute Increase of the Glutamate–Glutamine Cycling in Discrete Brain Areas after Administration of a Single Dose of Amphetamine

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The glutamate–glutamine cycle between neurons and glia is tightly related to excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic regulation in brain. The role of this neuron–astrocyte cross-talk on the neurotoxicity induced by amphetamines is not understood. Also, the impact of neurotoxic doses of amphetamines on the balance between glutamatergic and GABAergic circuits is largely unknown. The aim of this work was to assess the acute effect of a neurotoxic regimen of amphetamine (AMPH) on glutamine (GLN, an astrocytic marker) levels and on glutamine/glutamate (an index for glutamate–glutamine cycle) and GABA/glutamate ratios in rat brain. Sprague-Dawley rats were sacrificed 4 and 24 h after a single-dose regimen of AMPH (30 mg/kg, i.p.), and the caudate–putamen (CPu), frontal cortex (FC), and hippocampus (Hp) were dissected for analysis of glutamate (GLU), -aminobutyric acid (GABA), and GLN. The total content of these amino acids was measured using a microbore HPLC electrochemical detector. Although AMPH did not change GLU levels, it increased both GLN content and GLN/GLU ratio (160–469%) at 4 h, but not at 24 h, in all regions after injection. Striatal GABA levels and GABA/GLU ratio were increased (46 and 100%, respectively) at 24 h. In hippocampus the GABA/GLU increase (60%) occurred as early as 4 h after treatment. To the contrary, AMPH exerted no effect in GABA/GLU balance in frontal cortex. These data strongly suggest that this neurotoxic AMPH regimen provoked an early increase in the glutamate–glutamine cycle between neurons and glia. This increase may ultimately lead to an upregulation of the inhibitory system as a compensatory response.

Keywords: GABA; amphetamine; brain; glutamate–glutamine cycle

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Biomedical Institute for Research in Light and Image (IBILI), Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal 2: Neurochemistry Laboratory, Division of Neurotoxicology, NCTR, Jefferson, Akansas, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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