Illicit Stimulant Use in Humans Is Associated with a Long-Term Increase in Tremor

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 12/2012; 7(12):e52025. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052025
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Use of illicit stimulants such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy is a significant health problem. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 14-57 million people use stimulants each year. Chronic use of illicit stimulants can cause neurotoxicity in animals and humans but the long-term functional consequences are not well understood. Stimulant users self-report problems with tremor whilst abstinent. Thus, the aim of the current study was to investigate the long-term effect of stimulant use on human tremor during rest and movement. We hypothesized that individuals with a history of stimulant use would exhibit abnormally large tremor during rest and movement. Tremor was assessed in abstinent ecstasy users (n = 9; 22±3 yrs) and abstinent users of amphetamine-like drugs (n = 7; 33±9 yrs) and in two control groups: non-drug users (n = 23; 27±8 yrs) and cannabis users (n = 12; 24±7 yrs). Tremor was measured with an accelerometer attached to the index finger at rest (30 s) and during flexion and extension of the index finger (30 s). Acceleration traces were analyzed with fast-Fourier transform. During movement, tremor amplitude was significantly greater in ecstasy users than in non-drug users (frequency range 3.9-13.3 Hz; P<0.05), but was unaffected in cannabis users or users of amphetamine-like drugs. The peak frequency of tremor did not significantly differ between groups nor did resting tremor. In conclusion, abstinent ecstasy users exhibit an abnormally large tremor during movement. Further work is required to determine if the abnormality translates to increased risk of movement disorders in this population.

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    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 01/2013; 37:1466-1484. · 10.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Serotonergic neurotoxicity following MDMA is well-established in laboratory animals, and neuroimaging studies have found lower serotonin transporter (SERT) binding in abstinent Ecstasy/MDMA users. Serotonin is a modulator for many different psychobiological functions, and this review will summarize the evidence for equivalent functional deficits in recreational users. Declarative memory, prospective memory, and higher cognitive skills are often impaired. Neurocognitive deficits are associated with reduced SERT in the hippocampus, parietal cortex, and prefrontal cortex. EEG and ERP studies have shown localised reductions in brain activity during neurocognitive performance. Deficits in sleep, mood, vision, pain, psychomotor skill, tremor, neurohormonal activity, and psychiatric status, have also been demonstrated. The children of mothers who take Ecstasy/MDMA during pregnancy have developmental problems. These psychobiological deficits are wide-ranging, and occur in functions known to be modulated by serotonin. They are often related to lifetime dosage, with light users showing slight changes, and heavy users displaying more pronounced problems. In summary, abstinent Ecstasy/MDMA users can show deficits in a wide range of biobehavioral functions with a serotonergic component.
    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 09/2013; 37(8):1466-1484.. DOI:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.04.016 · 10.28 Impact Factor
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    10/2014; 5(1). DOI:10.1089/jcr.2014.0020
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