The Adverse Effects of Prenatal METH Exposure on the Offspring: A Review

Due to the range of sample types and their complex nature, a variety of instrumentation has been used for the analysis of samples containing methamphetamine, details of which are summarised in Table 1.4. With these two simple examples the complexity of mass spectral interpretation is clear and an analyst needs to fully understand the instrument they are working with and must report the data accordingly. Even when considering one instrument with one type of ionisation several parameters can affect the mass spectral output including temperature, flow rate of mobile phases, chemistry of the mobile phase including additives, pH and ionisation potentials to name a few.

Furthermore, inflammation may mediate the effects of Meth on pericytes as LPS infection can dissociate pericytes from endothelial cells and the basement membrane and increase BBB permeability (Nishioku et al., 2009). This approach was the basis for applications of spectral imaging of illicit drugs and much of the focus on generating quality images revolves around dealing with the complex sample matrices. In the work by Ricci, the chemicals in the lifting tape were shown to interfere with some spectral peaks and so the team also focused on direct imaging of the sample prior to lifting. The advent of improved technology, affording advancement in the resolution of the system, enabled more complex samples to be explored.


Importantly 19F nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy affords excellent selectivity with synthetic cannabinoid samples due to the sample matrix. These drugs are typically sprayed onto an herbal substrate and smoked by the user, and as such extraction of the compound from this herbal mixture is required. Nagi and co-workers showed that after extraction with methanol no interference from the molecules co-extracted from the substrate were observed under 19F NMR highlighting the selective nature of the approach.

  • New analytical methodologies need to be thoroughly tested and come under strict scrutiny in cross-examination of expert witnesses.
  • Three men have been charged over their alleged roles in the illegal shipment from the Middle East, where police say the drugs originated.
  • Thus, decreased expression of β-dystroglycan expression or truncation of its full form may prevent the localization of AQP4 to astrocytic endfeet and compromise the ability of AQP4 to regulate water clearance in the brain parenchyma (Papadopoulos et al., 2004).
  • The sample matrices presented to an illicit drug analyst bring a range of challenges and the nature of the matrix varies considerably depending on the area of research.
  • It should be noted that degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and monoamine neurotransmitter deficiency was observed in METH-exposed offspring (Salisbury et al., 2009).

The work performed on synthetic cannabinoids was described as being of great interest to forensic analysts and complements the work done on other classes of drugs such as the ring-substituted amphetamines, highlighting the broad applicability of this type of information. FTIR has the potential for use in applications requiring rapid quantification and, when coupled with a chemometric approach, it is a particularly powerful detection protocol. While the traditional belief is that Meth selectively damages DA and 5-HT axon terminals, more recent studies suggest that Meth produces more widespread damage. Meth users have decreases in the neuronal marker, N-acetylaspartate (Ernst et al., 2000; Chang et al., 2005), which is a more general indication of injury.

The drug was hidden in speakers and led to three people being charged with drug offences. The find, in Sydney, state crime command acting director of operations, detective chief superintendent John Watson, said was “now the largest ‘ice’ bust in Australian history”. The three men already arrested – aged 24, 26 and 34 – face potential life sentences in prison if convicted of drug trafficking. Laos is part of the Golden Triangle — covering the border areas with Myanmar and Thailand — that has for decades been a hub for Southeast Asia’s lucrative drug trade.

Largest ice bust in Australia as 1.8tonnes of methylamphetamine seized – more found in Bentley

“The laboratories that have been discovered or seized in this administration have had larger capacities, which has allowed us to seize a larger quantity of methamphetamine products,” Sandoval said. “There was a change in consumption, there was a change in drug markets due to the ease of producing synthetic drugs,” Sandoval said. For example, cartels no longer have to pay farmers to grow opium poppies and painstakingly collect the opium past that oozes from the bulbs. The defense secretary, Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval, acknowledged there has been a huge shift by Mexican cartels away from naturally grown drugs like opium and marijuana, where seizures and crop eradication has fallen. Officers found almost two tonnes of crystal meth inside shipping containers at Sydney’s main container terminal, Port Botany.

Many studies have investigated the mechanisms responsible for monoamine neurotransmitter damage caused by Meth. Those mechanisms include hyperthermia, neurotransmitter release, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation. Meth produces long-term neuronal damage in humans, non-human primates and rodents. PET and MRI observations in abstinent Meth users are substantiated by studies of human postmortem brain tissue and rodent studies.

Researchers from Mount Icahn Sinai School of Medicine found that the brain structure of sterile mouse embryos was different from that of female mouse embryos containing normal flora. These offspring had impaired responses to heat, sound, and pressure. After colonizing sterile mice with Clostridium, abnormal brain development and behavior in offspring were alleviated (Vuong et al., 2020).

meth seizure

Mexico’s synthetic drug boom was illustrated last week when a trucker from Mexico was arrested after trying to smuggle record-breaking amounts of meth and fentanyl into the U.S. Part of that increase was due to increased overall use of fentanyl, which Mexican cartels import from China and then press eco sober house boston into pills or mix into other drugs. Three men have been charged over their alleged roles in the illegal shipment from the Middle East, where police say the drugs originated. HMS Montrose seized 870kg of crystal methamphetamine from a dhow after the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter tracked its movements.

Interestingly, the development of analytical technology for forensic applications is often limited by the uptake of new methods, due to the implications in the court room. New analytical methodologies need to be thoroughly tested and come under strict scrutiny in cross-examination of expert witnesses. Regarding methamphetamine determination, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is the most commonly used analysis method due to it being one of the first utilised in this space and tested under law. Typically, GC-MS systems use quadrupole mass spectrometers affording only low resolution data, whereas LC-MS commonly employs high resolution analysers (such as time-of-flight), which has improved the determination of methamphetamine.

Australian police seize record 1.9 tons of meth found in marble tiles

The consequences of mixing meth with other drugs are life-threatening. Polydrug users combine meth with other illicit substances that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe behaviour and overdose. 43.7% of poly-drug users combined meth with marijuana, while others mixed ice with GHB, amyl nitrite, MDMA, cocaine, Viagra and heroin. Meth results in disruption of BBB structure and function and the mechanisms that contribute to BBB disruption are similar to those that are responsible for monoaminergic terminal damage after Meth. However, more studies are needed to assign a causative role for inflammation, glutamate and ammonia in Meth-induced BBB disruption.

meth seizure

METH easily crosses the placental barrier and even accumulates in breast milk (Little and Vanbeveren, 1996; Chomchai et al., 2016). The research conducted by David indicated that METH crossed the placenta within 30 s of its administration in pregnant sheep (Burchfield et al., 1991). In addition, it is reported that the concentration of METH was higher in breast milk than in maternal plasma (Steiner et al., 1984) and METH can be detected in breast milk following recreational use of METH (Bartu et al., 2009). Thus prenatal METH exposure may affect maternal health and also increase the risk of pregnancy complications like hypertension and preeclampsia during pregnancy as well as cause short- or long-term damage to the fetus. Silvia reported a case of neonatal brain malformation due to prenatal METH abuse in Philippines, and METH was detected in the urine of the mother and the newborn (Maya-Enero et al., 2018). Eugeni also reported a similar case, in which a full-term newborn born suffered seizures and severe neurological symptoms shortly after birth due to prenatal METH exposure, followed by severe liver insufficiency (Maranella et al., 2019).

If you are addicted you probably keep secrets, hide your drug use from others and lie about your whereabouts and how you spend their money, all the while accumulating debts. Meth-induced psychosis is further broken down into psychosis with hallucination and delusional psychosis. Hallucinations involve a meth user seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there. Delusions involve distorted views on what’s happening in the real world.

In fact, binge Meth exposure results in increased truncation of β-dystroglycan and increases in brain water content at 24 h . In addition, Meth acutely damages epithelial cells of the choroid plexus , a structure involved in regulating water exchange between the brain and blood, which could also contribute to Meth-induced brain edema. There has been a great body of work for the determination of traditional illicit substances and with human nature in question this will remain a challenge for analytical chemists into the future. Importantly, researchers in this area need to work closely with policing, health and policy advocates in order to fully realise the potential to deal with this problem. The research area is dynamic and analysts need to be flexible in their approach although with such a strong platform already developed a real impact is possible. This chapter, while focussing on advanced detection approaches, needs to place some context on the considerations that an analyst in the field takes to gain a comprehensive understanding of the illicit substance.

Behavioral Sensitization and Cross-Sensitization

The biological mechanism by which prenatal METH exposure affects offspring development is undetermined. More relevant studies are necessary to prove whether gut microbiota is involved and to uncover the underlying mechanism of communication between mother and infant through gut microbiota. Metabolites or bile acids related to the gut microbiota may act as a bridge (Al and Eberl, 2020; van Best et al., 2020). Exploration of gut microbiota may explain the mechanisms of prenatal METH exposure and manipulation of the gut microbiota may be effective in preventing and treating maternal METH exposure to offspring. Meth use is also highly comorbid with HIV infection and the combination of HIV infection and Meth can enhance BBB disruption. The BBB is affected by HIV infection and is also involved in the progression of disease (for review, see Banks et al., 2006).

The placenta is a matrix that reflects the character of constant contact with the mother and fetus, and has been used to assess long-term exposure (Myllynen et al., 2005; Esteban and Castaño, 2009). Xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes and transporters are closely related to drug exposure and have potential biomarker applications (Myllynen et al., 2005). Up to now, fetal drug exposure is mainly detected after birth. Using GC-MS, Joya quantitatively detected drug abuse in placental tissue at 12 weeks of pregnancy (Joya et al., 2010). This is the first report to highlight drug abuse in the first trimester and relied on biological materials obtained from women who had voluntarily terminated pregnancy at 12 weeks and the technique is limited by its invasiveness and therefore cannot be used in normal pregnancy screening. Structurally, METH is identical to monoamine neurotransmitters and induces neurotoxicity, cardiovascular toxicity, and hepatotoxicity (Carvalho et al., 2012; Varga et al., 2015; Kim et al., 2020).

Reproduced from ref. 76 with permission from Elsevier, Copyright 2009. This establishes the data set that can be used to generate a standard addition curve (see Figure 1.1)12,13 and the straight line that is formed is extrapolated to the x axis. This value is indicative of the concentration of the analyte that would need to be added to have observed the signal intensity relative to that of the analyte in the genuine sample. Where Xi refers to the concentration of the analyte in the sample of interest, Sf + Xf is the concentration of the analyte and the standard in the final solution, Ix is the signal intensity from the initial solution and Is+x is the signal from the final solution. ‘We’re starting to see some people that have been using for really quite a long time.

  • More than 17,500 pounds of meth and 389 pounds of fentanyl were discovered Thursday hidden inside a tractor-trailer at the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego, according to a statement from the U.S.
  • The BBB can be disrupted by similar mechanisms that are responsible for Meth-induced monoaminergic damage and parallel those that are known to cause BBB disruption in a variety of other neurological diseases.
  • The drugs, which have a wholesale value of £15.5 million according to the National Crime Agency, were discovered in a secret compartment of the vessel following the six-hour operation.
  • Where Xi refers to the concentration of the analyte in the sample of interest, Sf + Xf is the concentration of the analyte and the standard in the final solution, Ix is the signal intensity from the initial solution and Is+x is the signal from the final solution.

In line with this view, Bubenikova discovered that prenatal exposure to METH, resulted in more sensitivity to an acute dose of METH in adult offspring, with significant changes in the mesolimbic dopaminergic system (Bubenikova Valesova et al., 2009). Furthermore, both brain monoamine function and behavior alterations were found by Weissman’s team, manifested as a significant decrease in square crossing and rearing in an open field (Weissman and Caldecott-Hazard, 1993). However, no behavioral sensitization to METH was founded in the research of Sato and Fujiwara, regardless of the repeated prenatal exposure to METH . This might be explained by the differences in maternal exposure time and dose, suggesting that there is a specific developmental stage of the brain that is essential for behavioral sensitization to METH. Notably, Schutov indicated that the sensitivity to METH during prenatal development and in adulthood exerted sex-specific effects (Schutová et al., 2013). Sirova indicated that the combination of prenatal and postnatal METH exposure increases the risk of dopaminergic deficits by altering the activity of surface-expressed DATs, and that male mice were more sensitive.

These types of activities lead to stepwise improvements in the life cycle of the studies and can aid optimisation of the analytical procedures in the laboratories involved, directly aiding the reliability of data sets. Mass spectrometry is one of the most highly utilised detection techniques for illicit drugs because it affords information that can aid the structural elucidation of a molecule of interest, and when coupled with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a powerful asset. There is a large range of mass spectrometry instrumentation available and this chapter will focus broadly on this topic and also introduce some interesting fieldwork examples later in the text.

RPSGB pseudoephedrine alert coincides with crystal meth seizure

Further studies of the role of hyperthermia in methamphetamine neurotoxicity. Battaglia, G., Fornai, F., Busceti, C. L., Aloisi, G., Cerrito, F., De Blasi, A., et al. . Selective blockade of mGlu5 metabotropic glutamate receptors is protective against methamphetamine neurotoxicity.

Carmen Bartley, an indigenous woman from Forbes, a picturesque country town in central west New South Wales, sees the effects firsthand in her work as a drug and alcohol counsellor. Neurotransmitter release is a well-known acute effect of Meth. Meth increases extracellular concentrations of DA and glutamate (Raiteri et al., 1979; Mark et al., 2004). A consequence of these increases in cytosolic DA and extracellular glutamate is the generation of reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species . MAO metabolism of DA to DOPAC as well as autoxidation of DA results in the formation of ROS (Graham et al., 1978; Spina and Cohen, 1989; Hastings et al., 1996; Alper et al., 1999; Lavoie and Hastings, 1999). On the other hand, increased extracellular glutamate activates its calcium permeable receptors and results in the activation of nitric oxide synthase (Dawson et al., 1991) and subsequent reactive nitrogen species .