Pro-oxidant effects of Ecstasy and its metabolites in mouse brain synaptosomes

REQUIMTE (Rede de Química e Tecnologia), Laboratório de Toxicologia, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.
British Journal of Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 4.84). 04/2011; 165(4b):1017-33. DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01453.x
Source: PubMed


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or 'Ecstasy') is a worldwide major drug of abuse known to elicit neurotoxic effects. The mechanisms underlying the neurotoxic effects of MDMA are not clear at present, but the metabolism of dopamine and 5-HT by monoamine oxidase (MAO), as well as the hepatic biotransformation of MDMA into pro-oxidant reactive metabolites is thought to contribute to its adverse effects.
Using mouse brain synaptosomes, we evaluated the pro-oxidant effects of MDMA and its metabolites, α-methyldopamine (α-MeDA), N-methyl-α-methyldopamine (N-Me-α-MeDA) and 5-(glutathion-S-yl)-α-methyldopamine [5-(GSH)-α-MeDA], as well as those of 5-HT, dopamine, l-DOPA and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC).
5-HT, dopamine, l-DOPA, DOPAC and MDMA metabolites α-MeDA, N-Me-α-MeDA and 5-(GSH)-α-MeDA, concentration- and time-dependently increased H(2) O(2 ) production, which was significantly reduced by the antioxidants N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), ascorbic acid and melatonin. From experiments with MAO inhibitors, it was observed that H(2) O(2) generation induced by 5-HT was totally dependent on MAO-related metabolism, while for dopamine, it was a minor pathway. The MDMA metabolites, dopamine, l-DOPA and DOPAC concentration-dependently increased quinoproteins formation and, like 5-HT, altered the synaptosomal glutathione status. Finally, none of the compounds modified the number of polarized mitochondria in the synaptosomal preparations, and the compounds' pro-oxidant effects were unaffected by prior mitochondrial depolarization, excluding a significant role for mitochondrial-dependent mechanisms of toxicity in this experimental model.
MDMA metabolites along with high levels of monoamine neurotransmitters can be major effectors of neurotoxicity induced by Ecstasy.

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    • "Among the putative aspects that may contribute to the described toxicity is MDMA metabolism. In humans, MDMA is principally cleared by hepatic metabolism, which results in production of redox-active metabolites (Antolino-Lobo et al., 2011; Barbosa et al., 2012; Carvalho et al., 2010, 2012; de la Torre & Farre, 2004). These metabolites formed in vivo may act jointly with the parent compound to produce an overall effect that can be different than that elicited by MDMA alone. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatic injury after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; ecstasy) intoxications is highly unpredictable and does not seem to correlate with either dosage or frequency of use. The mechanisms involved include the drug metabolic bioactivation and the hyperthermic state of the liver triggered by its thermogenic action and exacerbated by the environmental circumstances of abuse at hot and crowded venues. We became interested in understanding the interaction between ecstasy and its metabolites generated in vivo as users are always exposed to mixtures of parent drug and metabolites. With this purpose, Hep G2 cells were incubated with MDMA and its main human metabolites methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), α-methyldopamine (α-MeDA) and N-methyl-α-methyldopamine (N-Me-α-MeDA), individually and in mixture (drugs combined in proportion to their individual EC01 ), at normal (37 °C) and hyperthermic (40.5 °C) conditions. After 48 h, viability was assessed by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Extensive concentration-response analysis was performed with single drugs and the parameters of the individual non-linear logit fits were used to predict joint effects using the well-founded models of concentration addition (CA) and independent action (IA). Experimental testing revealed that mixture effects on cell viability conformed to CA, for both temperature settings. Additionally, substantial combination effects were attained even when each substance was present at concentrations that individually produced unnoticeable effects. Hyperthermic incubations dramatically increased the toxicity of the tested drug and metabolites, both individually and combined. These outcomes suggest that MDMA metabolism has hazard implications to liver cells even when metabolites are found in low concentrations, as they contribute additively to the overall toxic effect of MDMA. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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