After an initial injury to the brain, brain cells react with a cascade of inflammatory responses that can lead to further injury, greater disability, and reduced recovery. Many clinical studies have been conducted to determine safe, reliable interventions that can lessen this secondary brain response, and therefore reduce further injury and disability. Several studies have found methamphetamine to be one drug intervention with potential to reduce the secondary brain injury. However, the most effective timing and safest dosage of methamphetamine for brain injury patients had not previously been determined.
A recent animal study found that graded doses of methamphetamine administered within 8-12 hours after a severe traumatic brain injury was neuroprotective-that is, the inflammatory response of brain cells was reduced, and both secondary injury and further disability was minimized. The neuroprotective response of the methamphetamine was most pronounced in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important for learning and memory.
The graded doses of methamphetamine were compatible with current FDA approved levels for humans. Although further studies need to be completed with human participants, methamphetamine may be a potentially safe and reliable intervention for secondary brain injury in the future.
Rau TF, Kothiwal AS, Rova AR, et al. Administration of low dose methamphetamine 12 h after a severe traumatic brain injury prevents neurological dysfunction and cognitive impairment in rats. Experimental Neurology. (March 2014).