The metabolic impact of methamphetamine on the systemic metabolism of rats and potential markers of methamphetamine abuse†
Although the stimulating and psychotropic effects of methamphetamine (METH) on the nervous system are well documented, the impact of METH abuse on biological metabolism and the turnover of peripheral transmitters are poorly understood. Metabolomics has the potential to reveal the effect of METH abuse on systemic metabolism and potential markers suggesting the underlying mechanism of toxicity. In this study, male Sprague Dawley rats were intraperitoneally injected with METH at escalating doses of mg kg−1 for 5 consecutive days and then were withdrawn for 2 days. The metabolites in the serum and urine were profiled and the systemic effects of METH on metabolic pathways were evaluated. Multivariate statistical analysis showed that METH caused distinct deviations, whereas the withdrawal of METH restored the metabolic patterns towards baseline. METH administration elevated energy metabolism, which was manifested by the distinct depletion of branched-chain amino acids, accelerated tricarboxylic-acid cycle and lipid metabolism, reduced serum glycerol-3-phosphate, and elevated serum and urinary 3-hydroxybutyrate and urinary glycerol. In addition to the increased serum levels of the excitatory amino acids glutamate and aspartate (the inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain), a marked decline in serum alanine and glycine after METH treatment suggested the activation and decreased inhibition of the nervous system and hence elevated nervous activity. Withdrawal of METH for 2 days efficiently restored all but a few metabolites to baseline, including serum creatinine, citrate, 2-ketoglutarate, and urinary lactate. Therefore, these metabolites are potential markers of METH use, and they may be used to facilitate the diagnosis of METH abuse.