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  1. PillMan
    Fruit Flies On Methamphetamine Die Largely as a Result of Anorexia

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2012) — A new study finds that, like humans, fruit flies exposed to methamphetamine drastically reduce their food intake and increase their physical activity. The study, which tracked metabolic and behavioral changes in fruit flies on meth, indicates that starvation is a primary driver of methamphetamine-related death in the insects.

    The new findings are described in The Journal of Toxicological Sciences.

    The abuse of methamphetamine can have significant harmful side effects in humans. It burdens the body with toxic metabolic byproducts and weakens the heart, muscles and bones. It alters energy metabolism in the brain and kills brain cells.

    Previous studies have shown that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a good model organism for studying the effects of methamphetamine on the body and brain. Researchers have found that meth exposure has similar toxicological effects in fruit flies and in humans and other mammals.

    Some studies found that supplementing the fly's diet with added glucose or other metabolic precursors slowed the damaging effects of exposure to methamphetamine, suggesting that meth has a profoundly negative effect on metabolism. Human meth users are known to crave sugary drinks, an indication that their sugar metabolism, too, is altered by methamphetamine use.

    "But previous research has not spelled out exactly how methamphetamine use affects energy metabolism," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, who led the new study with postdoctoral researcher Kent Walters. "Either it alters the expression of metabolic genes and/or the function of proteins, or it changes behaviors related to feeding and activity."

    To test these competing hypotheses, the researchers monitored the fruit flies' energy reserves and other byproducts of metabolism in response to meth exposure -- with and without the addition of dietary glucose. They also tracked how meth affected the flies' feeding behavior, activity levels and respiration rates.

    "We found that methamphetamine in the diet increased the flies' locomotor activity two-fold and decreased their food consumption by 60 to 80 percent," Walters said. Levels of triglycerides and glycogen, the two predominant energy storage molecules in animals, decreased steadily with meth exposure over a 48-hour period, suggesting that meth induced a negative caloric balance.

    "This is very similar to what has been observed in humans for whom amphetamines can cause increased physical activity and decreased appetite," Walters said.

    The flies' metabolic rate also declined in response to meth exposure, the opposite of what would be expected if metabolic changes were driving the depletion of triglycerides and glycogen.

    Adding glucose to the diet slowed the rate of decline and death in meth-fed flies, Walters said.

    "While methamphetamine exposure has a lot of other toxic effects that also undermine an animal's health, we show that meth exposure leads to anorexia and the resulting caloric deficit exhausts the animal's metabolic reserves," he said. "This is likely a primary factor in meth-induced mortality."

    The new findings further support the usefulness of the fruit fly as a model system to study the effects of methamphetamines, Pittendrigh said.

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2012, August 1). Fruit flies on methamphetamine die largely as a result of anorexia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/08/120801093834.htm

Comments

  1. radiometer
    This has to be one of the stupidest studies I've ever seen published. Of course amphetamines act as an appetite suppressant - they used to be PRESCRIBED for that use, for fuck's sake. This is just research drummed up to support drug laws. We already knew stimulant drugs led to weight loss, but Holy shit! All those fruit flies STARVED themselves to death!! sounds pretty scary.
  2. PillMan
    Yes I thought this was so ridiculous. And the fact that it's one of the longest articles I found makes it even worse.

    I mainly posted this because I think it is pretty funny they would waste the money to do this research when all they had to do is ask a meth addict.

    All in all this article is in fact ridiculous.
  3. usually0
    Sounds like they just comfirmed what's alreaady been known. Amphetamines are known to decrease appetites, that's why they're prescribed for diets.

    I wonder if they forcefully fed the fruit flies methapmetamines, or did the flies keep choosing to use again. Even if it did starve itself to death and intentionally keep redosing on meth, I find it incredibly hard to believe that any intelligent life would do the same.
  4. Luckysheaven7
    Never heard of the rat experiment where they had the choice to push a button for food or to activate the pleasure zone of their brain? They all died from starvation.
  5. usually0
    yeah I've heard of that before, totally forgot about that. I probaly wasn't clear, I really meant like humans or chimps or something. Like I know mice have similar brains to humans, but like a person wouldn't do that to themselves, neither would a chimpanzee, I'd think.

    That whole rat experimentation a doozy for me, when I heard that it was unbelieveable. They did that with cocaine, am I right?
  6. cra$h
    Yea I'm pretty sure it was cocaine.

    But as far as this test, they're comparing flies to people. Flies. To people. Enough said is there. I clearly have a larger mental capacity compared to a fly and know when I'm hungry, even if I'm spun past mania.
  7. Potter
  8. Angelwalker
    How sad they basically murdered fruitflys that are essential to keeping the ecosystem in balance and wasting labratory produced clean meth.....
    Not to mention the time and money wasted to produce this experiment while kids run around hungry and barefoot. And a thousand other things they could have done more useful to our society
  9. psychedelia
    I think this article does go to show that food intake can help a lot on a meth binge... After all, the lack of sleep and lack of food can be just as toxic to users as the drug itself. On the bright side, I have a fruit fly problem in my kitchen... Now I know how to get rid of them ;)
  10. ratgirldjh
    I think fruit flies only live like 24 hours anyway! Short study!
  11. Alien Sex Fiend
    lol this study is. did they supply them with tiny meth pipes too?
  12. JJ1234
    I think the absolute worst effect of meth addiction is losing ones personality. To be honest, it seems most users suffer from mental damage long before the physical damage is done. As for the deadliness in people, most should be attributed to the lifestyle of a tweaker vs. the physical effects.

    Back on topic it is really a waste of money to do a dumb ass experiment like this to prove something that is pretty much fact. Of course if humans had the brain of a fruit fly hooked on meth they would starve ones self to death.

    This beeing said, the brain of an addict is changed enough that many would prefer to use meth over food to a certain point. So extreme weight loss? Sure I can buy this. Are most addicts dying over not eating? I hardly doubt it. But really most meth addicts are so far gone(in the head) that they are really "dead" in a sense way before they actually suffer a physical death.

    Of course not everyone who uses meth is an addict like this. Although most people I know have been way out of control while using at the very least. To those who can control their use, kudos. I wish I were one in a way. Also glad that outside forces made me stop before I got too far out of control. This was after using only 3 months and losing over 60 lbs.!

    So really they could have just asked a tweaker and got the same information for free or at least dirt cheap!
  13. PillMan
    Or for a hit of meth lol. Anyway I am glad to see I am not the only one who thought this was a ridiculous waste of time and money. I am quite positive I could have found a better way to use the money they spent.
  14. Potter
    something that really bothers me about this study is the lack of reasonable scale.

    If I put a humming bird or bat in a closed container for an hour without food, it's going to starve to death. They have metabolisms that simply operate on an entirely different scale. Any sort of drug that keeps them from functioning properly, even for a short period of time, is going to be lethal. Blindfolds or ear plugs, respectively, could be lethal in a matter of hours to either species.

    Adult fruit fly cells don't even undergo mitosis, they are completely done growing and don't even replace cells as adults, they just fuck till they fall apart. Their metabolism and food needs aren't in any way comparable to a human.
  15. PillMan
    That is quite interesting potter. I did not know any of that. So you basically showed us even more of how they wasted there time and money. Good shit potter. Not so much you scientists.
  16. Phenoxide
    An honest show of hands now please. How many of those condemning this to be pointless or stupid have actually read the scientific article itself and how many have based their assumption solely on the brief narrative woven by this pop science website?

    The responses remind me so much of this: Sarah Palin condemns the humble fruit fly

    I also ask because I've read the actual research and to me this article doesn't do it justice at all. The actual research article is clear and well written. They explain why they consider Drosophila to be a suitable model organism for specifically assessing the effects of methamphetamine on conserved central metabolic pathways and cite previous literature that supports this. They go on to describe a pretty comprehensive analysis of the metabolic effects of the drug on the fly. They conduct additional experiments to account for a number of alternative hypotheses that could explain their findings, right down to checking that the bitterness of methamphetamine isn't deterring the flies. The observation that metabolic rate actually declines rather than increases in response to methamphetamine exposure in the fly is interesting. It may not be groundbreaking science but it's sound.

    I don't think anyone involved with the research is suggesting that the findings of the study are directly applicable to human behavior despite the parallels they draw in the ScienceDaily quotes. Drosophila is an excellent model organism for hypothesis building and testing when it comes to conserved molecular mechanisms. Very cheap research to conduct, quick to amplify because of the short and predictable life cycle of the fly, easily manipulated genetically in countless ways, and few ethical and licensing restrictions. Work done on the fly leads to more informed hypotheses and experiments in higher organisms.

    I'm not sure where you've got that from. Adult Drosophila continue to turnover their intestinal epithelium via differentiation of adult stem cells in the midgut. Neurogenesis in the wing also continues well into adulthood as the fly 'learns' about.. well, flying. They're certainly not built to be as robust as mammals but they aren't just pre-fabricated machines either.

    For those interested in the paper itself: Methamphetamine causes anorexia in Drosophila melanogaster, exhausting metabolic reserves and contributing to mortality
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