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      The Effects of Psychostimulant Drugs on Blood Brain Barrier Function and Neuroinflammation

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          The blood brain barrier (BBB) is a highly dynamic interface between the central nervous system (CNS) and periphery. The BBB is comprised of a number of components and is part of the larger neuro(glio)vascular unit. Current literature suggests that psychostimulant drugs of abuse alter the function of the BBB which likely contributes to the neurotoxicities associated with these drugs. In both preclinical and clinical studies, psychostimulants including methamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine, and nicotine, produce BBB dysfunction through alterations in tight junction protein expression and conformation, increased glial activation, increased enzyme activation related to BBB cytoskeleton remodeling, and induction of neuroinflammatory pathways. These detrimental changes lead to increased permeability of the BBB and subsequent vulnerability of the brain to peripheral toxins. In fact, abuse of these psychostimulants, notably methamphetamine and cocaine, has been shown to increase the invasion of peripheral bacteria and viruses into the brain. Much work in this field has focused on the co-morbidity of psychostimulant abuse and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. As psychostimulants alter BBB permeability, it is likely that this BBB dysfunction results in increased penetration of the HIV virus into the brain thus increasing the risk of and severity of neuro AIDS. This review will provide an overview of the specific changes in components within the BBB associated with psychostimulant abuse as well as the implications of these changes in exacerbating the neuropathology associated with psychostimulant drugs and HIV co-morbidity.

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          Cerebral microvascular pathology in aging and Alzheimer's disease.

          The aging of the central nervous system and the development of incapacitating neurological diseases like Alzheimer's disease (AD) are generally associated with a wide range of histological and pathophysiological changes eventually leading to a compromised cognitive status. Although the diverse triggers of the neurodegenerative processes and their interactions are still the topic of extensive debate, the possible contribution of cerebrovascular deficiencies has been vigorously promoted in recent years. Various forms of cerebrovascular insufficiency such as reduced blood supply to the brain or disrupted microvascular integrity in cortical regions may occupy an initiating or intermediate position in the chain of events ending with cognitive failure. When, for example, vasoconstriction takes over a dominating role in the cerebral vessels, the perfusion rate of the brain can considerably decrease causing directly or through structural vascular damage a drop in cerebral glucose utilization. Consequently, cerebral metabolism can suffer a setback leading to neuronal damage and a concomitant suboptimal cognitive capacity. The present review focuses on the microvascular aspects of neurodegenerative processes in aging and AD with special attention to cerebral blood flow, neural metabolic changes and the abnormalities in microvascular ultrastructure. In this context, a few of the specific triggers leading to the prominent cerebrovascular pathology, as well as the potential neurological outcome of the compromised cerebral microvascular system are also going to be touched upon to a certain extent, without aiming at total comprehensiveness. Finally, a set of animal models are going to be presented that are frequently used to uncover the functional relationship between cerebrovascular factors and the damage to neural networks.
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            Astrocytes induce blood-brain barrier properties in endothelial cells.

             R-C Janzer,  M Raff (2015)
            The highly impermeable tight junctions between endothelial cells forming the capillaries and venules in the central nervous system (CNS) of higher vertebrates are thought to be responsible for the blood-brain barrier that impedes the passive diffusion of solutes from the blood into the extracellular space of the CNS. The ability of CNS endothelial cells to form a blood-brain barrier is not intrinsic to these cells but instead is induced by the CNS environment: Stewart and Wiley demonstrated that when avascular tissue from 3-day-old quail brain is transplanted into the coelomic cavity of chick embryos, the chick endothelial cells that vascularize the quail brain grafts form a competent blood-brain barrier; on the other hand, when avascular embryonic quail coelomic grafts are transplanted into embryonic chick brain, the chick endothelial cells that invade the mesenchymal tissue grafts form leaky capillaries and venules. It is, however, not known which cells in the CNS are responsible for inducing endothelial cells to form the tight junctions characteristic of the blood-brain barrier. Astrocytes are the most likely candidates since their processes form endfeet that collectively surround CNS microvessels. In this report we provide direct evidence that astrocytes are capable of inducing blood-brain barrier properties in non-neural endothelial cells in vivo.
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              Amphetamine-type central nervous system stimulants release norepinephrine more potently than they release dopamine and serotonin.

              A large body of evidence supports the hypothesis that mesolimbic dopamine (DA) mediates, in animal models, the reinforcing effects of central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine. The role DA plays in mediating amphetamine-type subjective effects of stimulants in humans remains to be established. Both amphetamine and cocaine increase norepinephrine (NE) via stimulation of release and inhibition of reuptake, respectively. If increases in NE mediate amphetamine-type subjective effects of stimulants in humans, then one would predict that stimulant medications that produce amphetamine-type subjective effects in humans should share the ability to increase NE. To test this hypothesis, we determined, using in vitro methods, the neurochemical mechanism of action of amphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), (+)-methamphetamine, ephedrine, phentermine, and aminorex. As expected, their rank order of potency for DA release was similar to their rank order of potency in published self-administration studies. Interestingly, the results demonstrated that the most potent effect of these stimulants is to release NE. Importantly, the oral dose of these stimulants, which produce amphetamine-type subjective effects in humans, correlated with the their potency in releasing NE, not DA, and did not decrease plasma prolactin, an effect mediated by DA release. These results suggest that NE may contribute to the amphetamine-type subjective effects of stimulants in humans.

                Author and article information

                Front Pharmacol
                Front Pharmacol
                Front. Pharmacol.
                Frontiers in Pharmacology
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                29 June 2012
                : 3
                1simpleDepartment of Pharmacology, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA
                2simpleCenter for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA
                3simpleDepartment of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, IL, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Joana A. Palha, University of Minho, Portugal

                Reviewed by: Raja S. Settivari, The Dow Chemical Company, USA; James Haorah, University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA

                *Correspondence: Sharanya M. Kousik, Department of Pharmacology and the Center for Compulsive Behaviors and Addiction, Rush University, Robert H. and Terri Cohn Research Building, 1735 West Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. e-mail: sharanya_m_kousik@

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Neuropharmacology, a specialty of Frontiers in Pharmacology.

                Copyright © 2012 Kousik, Napier and Carvey.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 175, Pages: 12, Words: 12862
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