Neurotoxicity Research

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 218–230 | Cite as

Dopaminergic Neuron-Specific Deletion of p53 Gene Attenuates Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity



p53 plays an essential role in the regulation of cell death in dopaminergic (DA) neurons and its activation has been implicated in the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine (MA). However, how p53 mediates MA neurotoxicity remains largely unknown. In this study, we examined the effect of DA-specific p53 gene deletion in DAT-p53KO mice. Whereas in vivo MA binge exposure reduced locomotor activity in wild-type (WT) mice, this was significantly attenuated in DAT-p53KO mice and associated with significant differences in the levels of the p53 target genes BAX and p21 between WT and DAT-p53KO. Notably, DA-specific deletion of p53 provided protection of substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr) tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive fibers following binge MA, with DAT-p53KO mice having less decline of TH protein levels in striatum versus WT mice. Whereas DAT-p53KO mice demonstrated a consistently higher density of TH fibers in striatum compared to WT mice at 10 days after MA exposure, DA neuron counts within the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) were similar. Finally, supportive of these results, administration of a p53-specific inhibitor (PFT-α) provided a similarly protective effect on MA binge-induced behavioral deficits. Neither DA specific p53 deletion nor p53 pharmacological inhibition affected hyperthermia induced by MA binge. These findings demonstrate a specific contribution of p53 activation in behavioral deficits and DA neuronal terminal loss by MA binge exposure.


Dopaminergic neurons Neurotoxicity p53 Methamphetamine 



This research was supported in part by a grant from (i) The National Institutes of Health NINDS grant RO1NS094152 and (ii) the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging, NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurological SurgeryCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Medical FacultyKunming University of Science and TechnologyKunmingChina
  3. 3.Drug Design & Development Section, Translational Gerontology Branch, Intramural Research ProgramNational Institute of AgingBaltimoreUSA

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