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Aguirre N, Frechilla D, Garcia-Osta A, Lasheras B, Del Rio J. 
“Differential regulation by methylenedioxymethamphetamine of 5-hydroxytryptamine1A receptor density and mRNA expression in rat hippocampus, frontal cortex, and brainstem: the role of corticosteroids”. 
J Neurochem. 1997 Mar;68(3):1099-105.
The present study examined the effects of repeated administration to rats of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy') on 5-hydroxytryptamine1A (5-HT1A) receptor density and mRNA expression in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and brainstem. As expected, 7 days after subacute MDMA administration (20 mg/kg i.p. twice daily for 4 consecutive days) 5-HT content was markedly reduced (-70%) in the hippocampus and the frontal cortex. 5-HT1A receptor density was increased in the frontal cortex by 23% and decreased in the hippocampus and the brainstem by 25%. These changes correlated with an enhanced or diminished 5-HT1A receptor mRNA expression in the three regions studied. To examine the influence of corticosteroids on these changes, adrenalectomized (ADX) rats received the same dosage regimen as above. Adrenalectomy by itself did not modify 5-HT content in the brain regions examined and increased 5-HT1A receptor density in the hippocampus (+20%) but produced no change in the frontal cortex and brainstem. Adrenalectomy also prevented MDMA-induced changes in receptor number in the hippocampus and brainstem but not in the frontal cortex. Dexamethasone (1 mg/kg/day i.p.) administered for 7 consecutive days reversed the effects of adrenalectomy in the hippocampus but not in the frontal cortex. In the brainstem, MDMA no longer reduced 5-HT1A receptor number in ADX rats, but a significant reduction was restored when ADX animals received the glucocorticoid treatment. The present data show that MDMA may affect 5-HT1A receptors in a regionally dependent manner, notably through a drug effect on corticosterone release, which attenuates 5-HT1A receptor gene transcription selectively in the hippocampus.
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