Chronic exposure to MDMA (ecstasy) increases DNA damage in sperm and alters testes histopathology in male rats

Toxicology Unit, Public Health Department, School of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Av. Joan XXIII s/n, E-08028, Barcelona, Spain.
Toxicology Letters (Impact Factor: 3.26). 09/2009; 191(1):40-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2009.08.002
Source: PubMed


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "ecstasy") is consumed mainly by young population. For this reason, it is especially relevant to take into consideration the effects on the reproductive system. The influence of MDMA on the fertility and reproduction of the male rat was assessed in this study. MDMA was administered subcutaneously at 0 mg/kg (control), 0.5 mg/kg, 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg to SD male rats once a day, 3 consecutive days a week during 12 weeks, simulating human weekend associated consumption. Hormonal, haematological, biochemical, histological, genotoxicological and testicular and sperm parameters were evaluated in half of the rats. The remaining animals were mated with untreated sexually receptive females to evaluate the mating and pregnancy rates. A significantly higher incidence of DNA damage in Comet Test in sperm, tubular degeneration and interstitial oedema in testes was found. At all doses tested, sperm motility, morphology, mating and pregnancy rates, and number of implantation sites were not affected. This study fills the existing gap of knowledge about the chronic effects of MDMA in reproductive function using a realistic experimental design. Taking into account the higher sensitivity of human males, some concerns about the effects on the reproductive health still remain.

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    • "Similarly, MDMA did not induce genetic damage, as showed by the lack of significant increase (p>0.05) in DNA fragmentation, as well as in apoptotic and micronucleated cell (MN) frequency, compared to controls (Table 1). Our results disagreed most of the information available in the scientific literature regarding MDMA toxicity, which pointed out its capability to overproduce ROS (Nakagawa et al. 2009), leading to oxidative damage to lipids (Moon et al. 2008; Alves et al. 2009) and to DNA in different murine cells (Barenys et al. 2009; Nakagawa et al. 2009; Alvarenga et al. 2010). The lack of notable adverse effects induced by MDMA to D. polymorpha could be explained by the deep differences between vertebrate and invertebrate metabolism and/or in the exposure concentrations. "
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