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Methamphetamine Linked to Autoimmune, Heart Problems

Rat study suggests glycation end products may trigger inflammation, cardiovascular damage

WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Methamphetamine users can present with vasculitis and other cardiovascular problems that may be caused by increased inflammation due to an autoimmunity to methamphetamine-glycated proteins, according to the results of an animal study published online June 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Previous studies have shown that methamphetamine covalently glycates endogenous proteins. In this study, Kim D. Janda, Ph.D., of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and colleagues allowed rats to self-administer methamphetamine for either short or long periods -- one hour or six hours per day, respectively -- for over 12 weeks.

The investigators found that rats exposed to methamphetamine developed autoantibodies against glycated proteins, with antibody titers correlating to exposure duration. Rats exposed to methamphetamine also showed increased levels of cytokines and other immune modulators that were related to length of exposure.

"Our findings form the basis for a previously uncharacterized molecular mechanism justifying the deleterious clinical observations in methamphetamine addicts and validate the need for further exploration into methamphetamine-induced damage in the peripheral nervous system and vasculature," the authors write.

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