Amphetamines only work when 'well lubricated'

Amphetamines only work when 'well lubricated'

The misuse of amphetamines is increasing steadily. Ahead of the "International Day against Drug Abuse" (26th June 2013) MedUni Vienna researchers are presenting a study which unlocks a significant mechanism involved in their action. This could result in treatment options for those dependent on amphetamines.

In their study Harald Sitte and Stefan Böhm from the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology at the MedUni Vienna investigated the effects of amphetamines on the . The results of this basic medical research are very specific: according to these, the effect amphetamines have only unfolds when the cell membranes "lubricate" the serotonin transporters well with the PIP2.

The is a medically significant membrane protein as it is the target of various medications (e.g. antidepressants), but also of various substances that are abused – such as cocaine and amphetamines. The latter substances were therefore also the focus of this study.

The head of the study, Harald Sitte, comments: "Amphetamines are an important group of substances as their use is often played down, and they are promoted as happy pills and cognitive enhancers. A further danger is that new amphetamine-like substances are continually coming onto the market. So-called "" are included as one of these research chemicals for example. We want to understand what risks are connected with these substances and how these substances work in the body."

An important step for the treatment of amphetamine dependence

As well as the discovery that the membrane, in which the serotonin transporters are embedded, exerts a significant influence on the action of amphetamines, the researchers around Sitte were able, in collaboration with the research group around Gerhard Ecker (the University of Vienna), to also identify the site where PIP2 binds to the serotonin transporter.

Sitte goes on to explain the major, practical relevance this discovery has: "The significance of the membrane lipids for the effects of as has been now demonstrated can bring us an important step closer towards the treatment of dependencies on these substances."

"Transmembrane Transporters in Health and Disease" Special Research Department

The study has just been published in the renowned Proceedings of the National Academy for Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). The article is titled "Amphetamine actions at the serotonin transporter rely on the availability of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate."

More information: www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/06/21/1220552110.abstract

Related Stories

Compound enhances SSRI antidepressant's effects in mice

Jun 21, 2013

A synthetic compound is able to turn off "secondary" vacuum cleaners in the brain that take up serotonin, resulting in the "happy" chemical being more plentiful, scientists from the School of Medicine at The University of ...

'Traffic' in our cells works both for and against us

May 01, 2013

A mechanism that permits essential substances to enter our cells while at the same time removing from them harmful components also has a "down side." This negative aspect prevents vital drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, from ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments