Acute and long-term consequences of single MDMA administration in relation to individual anxiety levels in the rat
Ho YJ, Pawlak CR, Guo L, Schwarting RK.
Division of Clinical Psychology,
School of Psychology,
Chung Shan Medical University,
No. 110, Sec. 1, Chien-Kuo N. Road,
Taichung 402, Taiwan, ROC.
Behav Brain Res. 2004 Mar 2;149(2):135-44 2002 Oct;26(6):1151-4


Our previous work has shown that normal male Wistar rats can differ systematically in their behavioral response to the elevated plus-maze (EPM), where animals with high (HA) or low anxiety (LA) levels can be identified based on the percentage of time spent in the open arms. These animals also differ in other behavioral tests (e.g. active avoidance), and in their serotonin levels in the ventral striatum. Here, we tested whether such HA and LA rats might respond differently to the amphetamine analogue 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy"). This drug can affect psychomotor activation and anxiety; effects which are probably due to its pronounced serotonergic and dopaminergic impacts in the rat brain. Based on a routine screening procedure in the plus-maze, male Wistar rats were divided into HA and LA sub-groups, in which rectal temperature was measured. Thirty minutes after the i.p. injection of MDMA (7.5 or 15 mg/kg) or vehicle, they were again tested in the plus-maze. During the next 3 weeks, the animals underwent further behavioral tests (plus-maze, open field, active avoidance, forced swimming) to test for possible long-term consequences of MDMA. Rectal temperature was found to be higher in LA than HA rats and was especially increased with the higher dose of MDMA (15 mg/kg). In the acute plus-maze test, the lower dose of MDMA led to an anxiogenic-like profile, whereas the higher dose led to an anxiolytic-like profile, both in HA and LA rats. Possible long-term consequences of MDMA were only tested with 7.5 mg/kg MDMA, since the 15 mg/kg dose led to a high level of lethality. The analysis of open field, plus-maze (performed after 9-12 days), and forced swimming behavior (performed after 20-21 days) did not provide indications for lasting effects of MDMA. In contrast, active avoidance learning was impaired in LA- but not HA-rats treated with MDMA. A single injection of MDMA does not only have acute effects on anxiety and psychomotor activation, but can also have some prolonged or delayed task-dependent behavioral consequences. The detection of such sequels can require that individual differences are taken into account and here, determining anxiety levels in the EPM seems to serve as a useful approach.

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