Neonatal Methamphetamine Administration Induces Region-Specific Long-Term Neuronal Morphological Changes in the Rat Hippocampus, Nucleus Accumbens and Parietal Cortex

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Previous studies have demonstrated that rats exposed to methamphetamine (MA) during the neonatal period display deficits in spatial learning and memory. The underlying correlates are; therefore, this study was devised to determine whether neuronal changes occur in the dentate gyrus (DG), nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and cortex of adult rats exposed to 10 mg/kg MA administered four times daily from P11-20 using Golgi-Cox staining [Gibb, R. & Kolb, B. (1998) J. Neurosci. Meth., 79, 1-4]. The DG and NAcc demonstrated a decrease in the number of spines per neuron and the NAcc showed an associated decrease in dendritic length. Selective changes in cortex were observed because increased dendritic length in the parietal cortex occurred with no change in the number of spines, and no differences were noted for either dendritic length or spines in the medial frontal cortex. The data suggest a potential cause for the learning and memory deficits induced by neonatal MA exposure; however, the underlying mechanism that produces these neuronal changes is.