Methamphetamine and designer stimulants modulate tonic human cerebrovascular smooth muscle contractility
Relevance to drug-induced neurovascular stress
Hall, N., Dao, N., Hewett, C., Oberle, S., Minagar, A., Lamon, K., Ford, C., Blough, B. E., Alexander, J. S., & Murnane, K. S. (2023). Methamphetamine and designer stimulants modulate tonic human cerebrovascular smooth muscle contractility: Relevance to drug-induced neurovascular stress. Pathophysiology, 30(2), 144-154. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathophysiology30020013
To avoid criminal prosecution, clandestine chemists produce designer stimulants that mimic the pharmacological and psychoactive effects of conventional stimulants, such as methamphetamine. Following persistent or high-dose exposure, both acute vasoconstriction and loss of vascular homeostasis are reported dangers of conventional stimulants, and designer stimulants may pose even greater dangers. To compare the effects of a conventional stimulant and two designer stimulants on vascular contraction, this study examined the direct effects of 1,3-benzodioxolylbutanamine (BDB) and N-butylpentylone in comparison to methamphetamine on the function of human brain vascular smooth muscle cells (HBVSMCs). HBVSMCs suspended in collagen gels were exposed to varying concentrations of each drug, and the degree of constriction was assessed over one week. The MTT assay was used to measure the impact of the three drugs on the cellular metabolic activity as a marker of cellular toxicity. The highest concentration tested of either methamphetamine or N-butylpentylone produced a loss of HBVSMC contractility and impaired cellular metabolism. BDB showed a similar pattern of effects, but, uniquely, it also induced vasoconstrictive effects at substantially lower concentrations. Each drug produced direct effects on HBVSMC contraction that may be a mechanism by which the cardiovascular system is damaged following high-dose or persistent exposure, and this could be exacerbated by any sympathomimetic effects of these compounds in whole organisms. BDB appears to impact HBVSMC function in ways distinct from methamphetamine and N-butylpentylone, which may present unique dangers.