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Browsing by Subject "Dendritic spines"

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  • Törrönen, Essi (2020)
    4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) is one of the the most prevalent synthetic cathinones that bears close structural similarity to amphetamines. Like other stimulants, mephedrone is often used with alcohol (ethanol). In animal studies ethanol has been observed to potentiate the neurotoxicity of amphetamine-type stimulants, and same has been observed when mephedrone and alcohol is combined. The long-term effects of mephedrone have still remained largely elusive. The aim of this thesis is to study the effects of mephedrone, methamphetamine, and ethanol on dendritic spine density and morphology in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and caudate putamen, and compare the spine densities with changes in brain activation observed in manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Dendritic spines are small membranous protrusions on dendrites that act as the post-synaptic sites for most of the excitatory synapses. Amphetamine and methamphetamine have been shown to affect the density and morphology of the spines. The goal of this thesis was to investigate the long-term effect of binge-like (two times a day, four consecutive days) stimulant treatment on dendritic spines using Golgi-stained rat brain sections. The brains of 48 male Wistar rats were imaged using AxioImager Z2 microscope and the number and the size of the spines was analyzed using Reconstruct software. In this thesis no effect on dendritic spines was observed in the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in animals treated with mephedrone, methamphetamine, ethanol or combination of them. In the caudate putamen significant increase in the total density of dendritic spines and in the density of filopodia-like spines was observed in mephedrone-treated animals. Other treatments showed no observable effect. These results were conflicting with previous studies where amphetamine-type stimulants have been shown to increase the spine density in the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus and increase the density of branched spines. In the caudate putamen methamphetamine has been observed to decrease the spine density. There was no correlation between spine densities and brain activation observed in MEMRI. To my best knowledge this is the first time when the effect of mephedrone on dendritic spines has been studied. It is possible that the treatment regimen used here was not strong enough to produce marked long-term changes on dendritic spines. It is also possible, that mephedrone is not as neurotoxic as other amphetamine-type stimulants, which may explain why the effects remained limited and conflicting. More research is still required to establish the long-term structural effects of mephedrone.