Role of the serotonergic system in reduced pulmonary function after exposure to methamphetamine

Sandra M. Wells, Mary C. Buford, Virginia M. Porter, Heather L. Brunell, Melisa Bunderson-Schelvan, Andrew B. Nevin, Fernando Cardozo-Pelaez, Andrij Holian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although use of methamphetamine (MA) by smoking is the fastest growing method of administration, very limited data are available describing the effects of smoked MA. Using a murine inhalation exposure system, we explored the pulmonary effects of low-dose acute inhalation exposure to MA vapor (smoke). Inhalation of MA vapor resulted in transiently reduced pulmonary function, as measured by transpulmonary resistance, dynamic compliance, and whole-body plethysmography compared with unexposed control animals. These changes were associated with an approximately 34% reduction in serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) metabolism/inactivation to 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid, and a nearly 40% reduction in monoamine oxidase (MAO)-A activity in the lung. Pretreatment of mice with a selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitor completely ablated the MA-induced changes in pulmonary function, confirming a key role for the 5-HT transporter (serotonin transporter [SERT]) and the serotonergic system in this effect. Immunofluorescent staining of mouse lung tissue confirmed high expression of SERT in airway epithelial cells. Using mouse airway epithelial cell line, LA-4, and purified human MAO-A, it was demonstrated that MA impedes 5-HT metabolism through direct inhibition of MAO-A activity in vitro. Together, these data demonstrate that low-dose exposure to MA results in reduced pulmonary function mediated via SERT and subsequent perturbation of 5-HT metabolism in the lung. This supports a role for the serotonergic system in MA-mediated pulmonary effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-544
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Lung
  • Monoamine oxidase A
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  • Serotonin transporter


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of the serotonergic system in reduced pulmonary function after exposure to methamphetamine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this