Enkephalin contributes to the locomotor stimulating effects of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine
Compan V, Scearce-Levie K, Crosson C, Daszuta A, Hen R.
Columbia University, Center for Neurobiology and Behaviour,
N.Y.S.P.I. Kolb Research Annex, Room 732,
1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 87, New York, NY 10032-2695,
USA Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cellulaire et Fonctionnelle,
CNRS, Marseille, France Laboratoire de Genomique Fonctionnelle,
CNRS, Montpellier, France.
Eur J Neurosci. 2003 Aug;18(2):383-390


3,4-Methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA, 'Ecstasy') is a potent inhibitor of serotonin uptake, which induces both an increase in locomotion and a decrease in exploratory activity in rodents. Serotonin 5-HT1B receptors, located on the terminals of striatal efferent neurons, have been suggested to mediate these motor effects of MDMA. Striatal neurons projecting to the globus pallidus contain met-enkephalin, whilst those projecting to the substantia nigra contain substance P. We therefore analysed the levels of both peptides using radioimmunocytochemistry after MDMA administration (10 mg/kg, 3 h) in wild-type and 5-HT1B receptor knockout mice. Our results demonstrate that MDMA induces a decrease in pallidal met-enkephalin immunolabelling in wild-type, but not in 5-HT1B receptor knockout mice. Similar results were obtained following treatment with the 5-HT1A/1B agonist RU24969 (5 mg/kg, 3 h), suggesting that activation of 5-HT1B receptors leads to a reduction in met-enkephalin levels in the globus pallidus. In contrast, MDMA had no effect on the nigral substance P levels. We have previously shown that both MDMA and RU24969 fail to stimulate locomotor activity in 5-HT1B receptor knockout mice. Our present data indicate that the opioid antagonist naloxone suppressed the locomotor effects of MDMA. This study is the first to demonstrate that Enk contributes to MDMA-induced increases in locomotor activity. Such an effect may be related to the 5-HT control of pallidal met-enkephalin levels via the 5-HT1B receptors.

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