Adverse effects of methamphetamine on vital organs of male rats: Histopathological and immunohistochemical investigations

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

2 Pathology and Stem Cell Research Center, Pathology Department, Afzalipour Kerman Medical School, Kerman, Iran


Objective(s): Methamphetamine (named crystal, ice, and crank), is a strong psychostimulant drug with addictive and neurotoxic properties. It is absorbed by various organs and induces tissue damage in abusers. Most METH studies have focused on the central nervous system and its effects on other organs have been neglected. Experimental investigations of animal models are used to provide significant additional information. We have studied the histopathological effects of methamphetamine in the brains, hearts, livers, testes, and kidneys of rats. 
Materials and Methods: Methamphetamine (0.5 mg/kg) was administered subcutaneously for 21 days. Immunohistochemistry was carried out with markers including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) for reactive astrocytes, vimentin as an intermediate filament in different cells, and CD45 marker for the detection of reactive microglia in the brain. Also, some samples were taken from livers, kidneys, hearts, and testes.
Results: Degenerative changes and necrosis were the most common histopathological effects in the liver, kidneys, heart, testes, and brains of rats treated with methamphetamine. Immunohistochemical analyses by vimentin and GFAP markers revealed reactive microglia and astrocytes with the appearance of swollen cell bodies and also short, thickened, and irregular processes. Moreover, the number of CD45-positive cells was higher in this group. Reactive cells were more noticeable in the peduncles and subcortical white matter of the cerebellum.  
Conclusion: Our results showed the toxic effects of methamphetamine on the vital organs and induction of neurotoxicity, cardiomyopathy, renal damage, and infertility in male rats. We could not attribute observed hepatic changes to METH and further evaluation is needed.


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