Chronic treatment with a serotonin(2) receptor (5-HT(2)R) agonist modulates the behavioral and cellular response to (+)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [(+)-MDMA]
Ross JD, Herin DV, Frankel PS, Thomas ML, Cunningham KA.
Center for Addiction Research,
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology,
University of Texas Medical Branch,
301 University Blvd.,
Galveston TX 77555-1031, USA.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2005 Jul 27


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA; ecstasy] evokes a multifaceted subjective experience in human users which includes stimulation, feelings of well-being, mood elevation, empathy towards others as well as distortions in time, sensation and perception. Aspects of this unique psychopharmacology of MDMA are thought to be related to its potent actions to release serotonin (5-HT) and indirectly stimulate the 5-HT(2A) receptor (5-HT(2A)R). In the present studies, we examined the interrelationship between down-regulation of 5-HT(2A)R expression and the behaviorally stimulatory effects generated by acute administration of (+)-MDMA, the most potent enantiomer of (+/-)-MDMA. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were chronically treated with the preferential 5-HT(2A)R agonist 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) which has been shown to down-regulate expression of the 5-HT(2A)R, but not the closely related 5-HT(2C)R. While chronic DOI treatment did not alter the functional sensitivity of either the 5-HT(2A)R or 5-HT(2C)R, this regimen enhanced (+)-MDMA-evoked hyperactivity. Subsequent analysis of c-Fos and 5-HT(2A)R immunoreactivity in brain sections demonstrated that DOI treatment decreased the number of (+)-MDMA-induced c-Fos immunopositive nuclei and 5-HT(2A)R immunostaining in select cortical and striatal areas. These results indicate that chronic DOI exposure results in an enhanced behavioral response to (+)-MDMA and in a pattern of neuronal activation which resembles that seen in psychostimulant sensitization. These data also suggest that expression of the 5-HT(2A)R in the NAc and PFC may play a role in the sensitivity to the locomotor-stimulating effects of (+)-MDMA and in the processes of neural regulation upon repeated psychostimulant administration.

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