Parallel Effects of Methamphetamine on Anxiety and CCL3 in Humans and a Genetic Mouse Model of High Methamphetamine Intake

Marilyn Huckans, Clare Wilhelm, Tamara J. Phillips, Elaine T. Huang, Rebekah Hudson, Jennifer M. Loftis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Methamphetamine (MA) abuse causes immune dysfunction and neuropsychiatric impairment. The mechanisms underlying these deficits remain unidentified. Methods: The effects of MA on anxiety-like behavior and immune function were investigated in mice selectively bred to voluntarily consume high amounts of MA [i.e., MA high drinking (MAHDR) mice]. MA (or saline) was administered to mice using a chronic (14-day), binge-like model. Performance in the elevated zero maze (EZM) was determined 5 days after the last MA dose to examine anxiety-like behavior. Cytokine and chemokine expressions were measured in the hippocampus using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Human studies were also conducted to evaluate symptoms of anxiety using the General Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale in adults with and without a history of MA dependence. Plasma samples collected from human research participants were used for confirmatory analysis of murine qPCR results using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: During early remission from MA, MAHDR mice exhibited increased anxiety-like behavior on the EZM and reduced expression of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 3 (ccl3) in the hippocampus relative to saline-treated mice. Human adults actively dependent on MA and those in early remission had elevated symptoms of anxiety as well as reductions in plasma levels of CCL3, relative to adults with no history of MA abuse. Conclusions: The results highlight the complex effects of MA on immune and behavioral function and suggest that alterations in CCL3 signaling may contribute to the mood impairments observed during remission from MA addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Genetic model
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Immune system
  • Methamphetamine
  • Rodents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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