Neurotoxicity of ecstasy (MDMA): an overview.
ABSTRACT "Ecstasy" (MDMA) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug which has raised concern worldwide because of its high abuse liability. A plethora of studies have demonstrated that MDMA has the potential to induce neurotoxicity both in human and laboratory animals. Although research on MDMA has been carried out by many different laboratories, the mechanism underlying MDMA induced toxicity has not been fully elucidated. MDMA has the ability to reduce serotonin levels in terminals of axons in the cortex of rats and mice. Recently we have shown that it also has the potential to produce degenerate neurons in discrete areas of the brain such as insular and parietal cortex, thalamus, tenia tecta and bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BST). Acute effects of MDMA can result in a constellation of changes including arrthymias, hypertension, hyperthermia, serotonin (5-HT) syndrome, liver problems, seizures and also long lasting neurocognitive impairments including mood disturbances. In human MDMA abusers, there is evidence for reduction of serotonergic biochemical markers. Several factors may contribute to the MDMA-induced neurotoxicity, especially hyperthermia. Other factors potentially influencing MDMA toxicity include monoamine oxidase metabolism of dopamine and serotonin, nitric oxide generation, glutamate excitotoxicity, serotonin 2A receptor agonism and the formation of MDMA neurotoxic metabolites. In this review we will cover the following topics: pharmacological mechanisms, metabolic pathways and acute effects in laboratory animals, as well as in humans, with special attention on the mechanism and pathology of MDMA induced neurotoxicity.
SourceAvailable from: Sara Soleimani[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Introduction Exposure to 3, 4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) could lead to serotonergic system toxicity in the brain. This system is responsible for learning and memory functions. Studies show that MDMA causes memory impairment dose-dependently and acutely. The present study was designed to evaluate the chronic and acute effects of MDMD on spatial memory and acquisition of passive avoidance. Methods Adult male Wistar rats (200-250 g) were given single or multiple injections of MDMA (10 mg/kg, IP). Using passive avoidance and Morris Water Maze (MWM) tasks, learning and spatial memory functions were assessed. The data were analyzed by SPSS 16 software and one- way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test. Results Our results showed that there were significant differences in latency to enter the dark compartment (STL) between sham and MDMA- treated groups. Acute group significantly showed more STL in comparison with chronic group. Furthermore, MDMA groups spent more time in dark compartment (TDS) than the sham group. Administration of single dose of MDMA significantly caused an increase in TDS compared with the chronic group. In the MWM, MDMA treatment significantly increased the traveled distance and escaped latency compared to the sham group. Like to passive avoidance task, percentage of time spent in the target quadrant in MDMA- treated animals impaired in MWM compared with sham group. Discussion These data suggest that MDMA treatment impairs learning and memory functions that are more extensive in acute- treated rats.Autonomic neuroscience: basic & clinical 01/2014; 5(3-3):225-230. · 1.37 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Exposure to 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) leads to spatial memory impairment and hippocampal cell death. In the present study we have examined the protective effects of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) on MDMA-induced neurotoxicity. A total of 56 male Sprague Dawley rats (200-250 g) received twice daily intraperitoneal (IP) injections of 5, 10 or 20 mg/kg MDMA plus NAC (100 mg/kg). Rectal temperatures were recorded before and after daily treatment. We used a Morris water maze (MWM) to assess spatial learning and memory. At the end of the study rats' brains were removed, cells were counted and the level of Bcl-2, Bax and caspase-3 expression in the hippocampi were measured. NAC pretreatment significantly reduced MDMA-induced hyperthermia. In the MWM, NAC significantly attenuated the MDMA-induced increase in distance traveled; however the observed increase in escape latency was not significant. The decrease in time spent in the target quadrant in MDMA animals was significantly attenuated (p < 0.001, all groups). NAC protected against MDMA-induced cell death and the up -regulation of Bax and Caspase-3, in addition to the down-regulation of Bcl-2. This data suggested a possible benefit of NAC in the treatment of neurotoxicity among those who use MDMA.Metabolic Brain Disease 08/2013; 28(4). DOI:10.1007/s11011-013-9423-1 · 2.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autophagic (type II) cell death, characterized by the massive accumulation of autophagic vacuoles in the cytoplasm of cells, has been suggested to play pathogenetic roles in cerebral ischemia, brain trauma, and neurodegenerative disorders. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) is an illicit drug causing long-term neurotoxicity in the brain. Apoptotic (type I) and necrotic (type III) cell death have been implicated in MDMA-induced neurotoxicity, while the role of autophagy in MDMA-elicited neurotoxicity has not been investigated. The present study aimed to evaluate the occurrence and contribution of autophagy to neurotoxicity in cultured rat cortical neurons challenged with MDMA. Autophagy activation was monitored by expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3; an autophagic marker) using immunofluorescence and western blot analysis. Here, we demonstrate that MDMA exposure induced monodansylcadaverine (MDC)- and LC3B-densely stained autophagosome formation and increased conversion of LC3B-I to LC3B-II, coinciding with the neurodegenerative phase of MDMA challenge. Autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA) pretreatment significantly attenuated MDMA-induced autophagosome accumulation, LC3B-II expression, and ameliorated MDMA-triggered neurite damage and neuronal death. In contrast, enhanced autophagy flux by rapamycin or impaired autophagosome clearance by bafilomycin A1 led to more autophagosome accumulation in neurons and aggravated neurite degeneration, indicating that excessive autophagosome accumulation contributes to MDMA-induced neurotoxicity. Furthermore, MDMA induced phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and its downstream unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1), suggesting the AMPK/ULK1 signaling pathway might be involved in MDMA-induced autophagy activation.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e116565. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116565 · 3.53 Impact Factor