Meth Use Linked to Deadly Fungal Infection

Methamphetamine use may ultimately make individuals more prone to a deadly fungal infection called cryptococcosis, which affects the central nervous system and lungs.

Methamphetamine injections in mice greatly increased the colonization of the lungs by Cryptococcus neoformans and accelerated the advancement of the infection and time until demise. The animal experiment was performed by researchers at Long Island University Post in Brookville, New York, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

PhD Martinez R. Luis led the authors in writing about the dissemination of the fungus to the central nervous system, which is followed by the formation of biofilm and colonization in the lungs, thus promoting the abuse of this drug.

The research was published on the internet on July 30th in mBio.

Expedited Time to Demise.

Cryptococcosis is a result of the encapsulated fungus C neoformans, which is the primary reason for fungal meningitis in individuals with AIDS.

In individuals with good health, C neoformans is generally benign, but methamphetamine induces breaches in the blood-brain barrier that may allow the fungus to infiltrate the central nervous system, leading to a fatal brain infection.

Dr. Martinez mentioned that there is limited knowledge regarding their impact on immune system. Extensive research has been conducted to investigate the influence of substances like methamphetamine on human behavior.

He stated that the impacts of methamphetamine, also known as meth, on the brain are investigated by studying how the pathogenic opportunistic encapsulated fungus, neoformans C, colonizes the lungs before traveling to both regions.

The researchers studied the effect by administering methamphetamine doses to mice for a duration of 3 weeks. Subsequently, the mice were exposed to the C neoformans fungus.

The mice that were infected died at a much faster rate when exposed to methamphetamine. All of the mice injected with methamphetamine died, whereas only 50% of the control mice died, nine days after being infected.

Methamphetamine increased the association between C neoformans and epithelial cells in the lining of the lung, as observed through fluorescent microscopy of lung tissue from mice treated with methamphetamine and control mice.

After seven days of exposure to the fungus, mice treated with methamphetamine showed large numbers of fungi surrounded by a vast amount of gooey polysaccharide substance in their lungs.

In the early stages of the infection, mice treated with methamphetamine exhibited a lower number of inflammatory cells compared to the control mice, and they also breathed faster. Faster respiration in control mice is a sign of respiratory distress, and the mice treated with methamphetamine also showed a lower number of inflammatory cells in the early stages of the infection.

Dr. Martinez stated, “The microorganism induces illness by altering the surroundings and detecting its own existence within the medication. This elucidation could pertain to the virulence of the microorganism, but it also reveals how the polysaccharide of the capsule is altered when C neoformans detects meth.”

He further stated that comprehending the mechanisms by which drug use facilitates the onset of a disease is highly significant.

Another Unfavorable Result.

Gaya Dowling, PhD, branch chief at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Bethesda, Maryland, stated that in order to inform their patients about these risks, healthcare professionals should be aware of the extensive range of repercussions caused by methamphetamine abuse. This information holds significance for all healthcare practitioners, with addiction psychiatrists benefiting particularly from it.

According to Dr. Dowling, Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can cause significant social, medical, and psychological consequences for those who abuse it.

Dr. Gaya stated that the abuse of Methamphetamine can cause severe dental problems, malnutrition, damage to the cardiovascular system, psychotic behavior, aggression, and memory loss, which also contributes to the increased transmission and progression of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Clinicians must inform their patients about the increased risk of life-threatening and serious infections that come with the abuse and use of meth. Once established, the fungal infection within the lungs serves as a reservoir for further fungal assault, including the penetration of the blood-brain barrier and infection of the brain. Meth enhances the actions of C. Neoformans, ultimately leading to chronic lung tissue infection. In patients with AIDS, meth can also impact opportunistic infections, such as the common cause of fungal meningitis, Cryptococcus neoformans, associated with HIV. This new study further explores how meth can impact the body’s ability to show the effects of these infections.

Dr. Martinez and Dr. Dowling declare that they have no significant financial connections.

MBio. Published on July 30, 2013, available in its entirety.