Acute and subchronic effects of MDMA ("ecstasy") on anxiety in male mice tested in the elevated plus-maze
Navarro JF, Maldonado E.
Department of Psychobiology,
Faculty of Psychology,
University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos,
29071 Malaga, Spain.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2002 Oct;26(6):1151-4


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a compound structurally similar to methamphetamine, which has become one of the most widely used illicit substances. Animal studies investigating acute effects of MDMA on anxiety are unclear since, although an anxiogenic-like action of MDMA in different animal models of anxiety has been mainly described, there is also evidence supporting an anxiolytic-like effect for this drug. An attempt was made to clarify the possible anxiogenic-like profile of MDMA (1, 8 and 15 mg/kg i.p.) by analyzing its effect on behavior of male mice in the elevated plus-maze test. Moreover, the possible development of tolerance to the effects of MDMA on anxiety after its subchronic administration for 5 consecutive days was examined. The parameters evaluated included: (1) total time in open arms, (2) total time in closed arms, (3) total time in central area, (4) number of open arm entries, (5) number of closed arm entries and (6) number of central area entries. Acute treatment with MDMA (8 mg/kg) significantly reduced the time spent in the open arms, as well as markedly increasing the number of entries in the closed arms and in the central area, as compared with the control group, suggesting that MDMA, at this dose, has an anxiogenic-like activity. Mice subchronically treated with the drug (1 and 8 mg/kg) displayed a notable reduction in the time spent in the open arms, accompanied by an increase in the time spent in the closed arms and in the central platform. These results indicate that the anxiogenic-like effect found after acute treatment is not only maintained but also more marked after subchronic treatment. In contrast, mice treated subchronically with the highest dose of MDMA (15 mg/kg) exhibited a significant increase in the time spent in the open arms as well as a marked reduction in the time spent in the closed arms, supporting an anxiolytic-like activity of the drug. A possible dual pharmacological property of MDMA on anxiety is suggested.

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