Erowid References Database
De Souza EB, Battaglia G, Insel TR.
“Neurotoxic effect of MDMA on brain serotonin neurons: evidence from neurochemical and radioligand binding studies”.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990;600:682-97; discussion 6.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, 'Ecstasy'), a ring-substituted derivative of methamphetamine, represents one of a number of 'designer drugs' which is being increasingly abused, especially among college students. MDMA and its close structural analogue MDA (3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine) have been reported to exhibit both stimulant and psychotomimetic properties. MDMA has been the subject of continued scientific and legal debate, as several psychiatrists have reported that the drug may 'enhance emotions' and 'feelings of empathy' and thus serve as an adjunct in psychotherapy. Concern about the clinical use of MDMA has arisen based on data that MDMA is self-administered in nonhuman primates, (i.e. has a high potential for abuse in humans) and is a potent neurotoxin that appears to cause selective degeneration of brain serotonin neurons both in rodents and nonhuman primates.
This chapter will describe some of the authors' recent data on the neurotoxic effects of MDMA on brain monoamine systems in both rodents and rhesus monkeys. Specifically, studies will be described examining the effects of in vivo systemic administration of MDMA on brain monoamine systems with respect to 1) dose dependence and the relative sensitivity of various animal species to neurotoxic effects of the drug; 2) the characteristics and time course of recovery following destruction of serotonin neurons; and 3) the regional differences and morphological specificity of MDMA-induced neurotoxicity.
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