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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 308052, 10 pages
Review Article

Methamphetamine and Parkinson's Disease

1Instituto Cajal (CSIC), Avenida Doctor Arce 37, 28002 Madrid, Spain
2CIBERNED, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
3Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Received 20 August 2012; Accepted 22 October 2012

Academic Editor: José Manuel Fuentes Rodríguez

Copyright © 2013 Noelia Granado et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder predominantly affecting the elderly. The aetiology of the disease is not known, but age and environmental factors play an important role. Although more than a dozen gene mutations associated with familial forms of Parkinson's disease have been described, fewer than 10% of all cases can be explained by genetic abnormalities. The molecular basis of Parkinson's disease is the loss of dopamine in the basal ganglia (caudate/putamen) due to the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, which leads to the motor impairment characteristic of the disease. Methamphetamine is the second most widely used illicit drug in the world. In rodents, methamphetamine exposure damages dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, resulting in a significant loss of dopamine in the striatum. Biochemical and neuroimaging studies in human methamphetamine users have shown decreased levels of dopamine and dopamine transporter as well as prominent microglial activation in the striatum and other areas of the brain, changes similar to those observed in PD patients. Consistent with these similarities, recent epidemiological studies have shown that methamphetamine users are almost twice as likely as non-users to develop PD, despite the fact that methamphetamine abuse and PD have distinct symptomatic profiles.