Objective: The aim of this study was to examine disturbances in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) associated with methamphetamine abuse. Methods: Using Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT), rCBF was measured in 20 men who had previously injected methamphetamine intravenously for over 30 months and who were now abstinent for a minimum of 9 months and for an average of 2 years. Values were compared with those in 12 healthy men who had never injected methamphetamine. Results: While rCBF was significantly and disproportionately reduced in subcortical and dorsal cortical brain regions, including the striatum, thalamus, cingulum, mesiodorsal prefrontal cortex, and pons (all t's >8.3 after global normalization, corrected p's <0.001), whole brain CBF was also significantly reduced in the former methamphetamine users. Binge use of methamphetamine is associated with long-term changes in both global and regional blood flows, likely representing severe and enduring neural toxicity of monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems in the brain, producing a pattern of hypoperfusion that resembles patterns reported previously for persons with atypical Parkinson's disease. Conclusions: These findings suggest that methamphetamine abusers may be possibly at increased risk for neurodegenerative diseases later in life.
- Cerebral blood flow