Prenatal lead exposure enhances methamphetamine sensitization in rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • Adult female rats were exposed to lead-free sodium acetate via gavage [0 mg (vehicle control)] or to 16 mg lead as lead acetate for 30 days prior to breeding. Following confirmation of breeding, the female animals continued to be exposed to their respective doses throughout gestation and lactation. When weaned, 16 control and 16 lead-exposed offspring were placed on regular water and food (lead-exposure was discontinued) until postnatal day (PND) 70. At this time, one-half of the control animals and one-half of the lead-treatment animals received intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of the vehicle (saline) for 10 successive days and the remaining animals in each exposure conditions received daily injections of 1.0 mg/kg (+)-methamphetamine (METH) for 10 days (N=8/group). Locomotion in automated chambers was monitored daily for 45 min post-injection. Subsequently, during dose-effect testing, all animals received consecutive daily i.p. injections of 0, 1.0, 2.0, and then 4.0 mg/kg METH. The results of the experiment showed that both control and lead-exposed animals exhibited heightened locomotor activity (i.e. behavioral sensitization) to the repeated administration of 1.0 mg/kg METH. More importantly, animals developmentally (perinatally) exposed to lead showed more rapid sensitization than did their control counterparts. These data indicate that early lead exposure increases sensitivity to the locomotor-stimulating effects of METH. In contrast, identically exposed lead animals exhibit diminished METH dose-effect responding when tested in an intravenous (i.v.) self-administration paradigm [Rocha A., Valles R., Bratton G.R., Nation J.R. Developmental lead exposure alters methamphetamine self-administration in the male rat: acquisition and reinstatement. Drug Alcohol Depend 2008a;95:23-29, Rocha A., Valles R., Hart N., Bratton G.R., Nation J.R. Developmental lead exposure attenuates methamphetamine dose-effect self-administration performance and progressive ratio responding in the male rat. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2008b;89:508-514].

published proceedings

  • Pharmacol Biochem Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Clifford, P. S., Hart, N., Thompson, J., Buckman, S., Wellman, P. J., Bratton, G. R., & Nation, J. R.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Clifford, P Shane||Hart, Nigel||Thompson, Jeff||Buckman, Sam||Wellman, Paul J||Bratton, Gerald R||Nation, Jack R

publication date

  • August 2009