Glial dysfunction in abstinent methamphetamine abusers

Napapon Sailasuta, Osama Abulseoud, Kent C. Harris, Brian D. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Persistent neurochemical abnormalities in frontal brain structures are believed to result from methamphetamine use. We developed a localized 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) assay on a conventional MR scanner, to quantify selectively glial metabolic flux rate in frontal brain of normal subjects and a cohort of recovering abstinent methamphetamine abusers. Steady-state bicarbonate concentrations were similar, between 11 and 15 mmol/L in mixed gray-white matter of frontal brain of normal volunteers and recovering methamphetamine-abusing subjects (P > 0.1). However, glial 13 C-bicarbonate production rate from [1- 13C] Cacetate, equating with glial tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle rate, was significantly reduced in frontal brain of abstinent methamphetamine-addicted women (methamphetamine 0.04 μmol/g per min (N5) versus controls 0.11 μmol/g per min (N=5), P=0.001). This is equivalent to 36% of the normal glial TCA cycle rate. Severe reduction in glial TCA cycle rate that normally comprises 10% of total cerebral metabolic rate may impact operation of the neuronal glial glutamate cycle and result in accumulation of frontal brain glutamate, as observed in these recovering methamphetamine abusers. Although these are the first studies to define directly an abnormality in glial metabolism in human methamphetamine abuse, sequential studies using analogous 13 C MRS methods may determine cause and effect between glial failure and neuronal injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-960
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Acetate
  • Glutamate
  • MR spectroscopy
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neuronal?glial interaction
  • Neurotransmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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