Evaluation of the neurotoxic potential of N,N-dimethylamphetamine: an illicit analog of methamphetamine

G. A. Ricaurte, L. E. DeLanney, I. Irwin, J. M. Witkin, J. L. Katz, J. W. Langston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the neurotoxic potential of N,N-dimethylamphetamine (N,N-DMA), a controlled substance analog that has recently appeared on the illicit drug market, and compare it to that of methamphetamine, a structurally related drug with known dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotoxic activity. Like methamphetamine, N,N-DMA induced degeneration of nerve terminals in the mouse striatum, but did not produce cell loss in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra. The dopamine-depleting effects of N,N-DMA were approximately one-eighth of those of methamphetamine. Assessment of N,N-DMA's effects on serotonergic neurons showed that it did not produce a long-lasting depletion of serotonin in either the mouse or rat brain. By contrast, equivalent doses of methamphetamine depleted serotonin in the rat brain by 82%. These results indicate that N,N-DMA, the N-methylated analog of methamphetamine, is considerably less potent than its parent compound both as a dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotoxin, and raise the question of whether or not it may be possible to dissociate the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine from its reinforcing actions by means of N-methylation. Safety of N,N-DMA in humans remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 26 1989


  • Dopamine
  • Drug abuse
  • Methamphetamine
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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