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NIH Record

Cadet Kicks Off 4th 'Science Working for Us' Series

By Wayne Bowen and Roland Owens

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, chief of the molecular neuropsychiatry section of the Neuroscience Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, presented a seminar in honor of Black History Month titled "Free Radicals, Drugs of Abuse and Neurodegeneration: Implications for Parkinsonism." He presented his research on the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine (meth), a drug of abuse, the use of which has increased dramatically over the past few years.

Although used for its euphoric effects, meth can cause a number of psychiatric and neurologic complications including psychosis, strokes and sudden death. In addition to its acute effects, it can have long-term neurodegenerative effects that affect mostly the monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems of the brain. These are characterized by marked decreases in the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and their metabolites. Although these meth-induced abnormalities have been known for a long time, the mechanisms that lead to these changes have remained to be clarified. Cadet's laboratory has carried out studies in an attempt to elucidate the cellular and molecular events involved in these deleterious effects.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet

Cadet showed that meth kills cells by a process resembling apoptosis and that expression of the anti-apoptotic proto-oncogene bcl-2 affords protection in vitro. Furthermore, he showed that knockout mice lacking the pro-apoptotic factor p53 were protected from the long-term neurotoxic effects of meth. These studies suggest a close link between meth toxicity, oxygen free radicals, and induction of cell death by apoptosis. Cadet outlined the important implications of this work for Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the dopaminergic system of the brain.

On staff at NIDA's Addiction Research Center in Baltimore since 1992, Cadet was recently appointed clinical director of the institute's Intramural Research Program, where he supervises clinical procedures and medical care for all human volunteers enrolled in ARC research programs. He is a member of the committee on the status of minority intramural scientists and serves as program director of NIDA's Minority Research Training Program. He also serves on the editorial board of the journal Synapse.

Cosponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this seminar was the 10th in the "Science Working for Us" seminar series that is presented by the speakers bureau of the NIH Black Scientists Association. The series was established in February 1995 to highlight accomplishments of Black scientists in NIH intramural and extramural programs and to provide a forum for health-related issues of importance to the minority community. For more information about the series or the NIH Black Scientists Association, visit the Web site at http://www.nih.gov/science/blacksci/index.html


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