Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) cause selective ablation of serotonergic axon terminals in forebrain: immunocytochemical evidence for neurotoxicity
by
O'Hearn E, Battaglia G, De Souza EB, Kuhar MJ, Molliver ME.
Department of Neuroscience,
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
Baltimore, Maryland 21205.
J Neurosci 1988 Aug;8(8):2788-803


ABSTRACT

The psychotropic amphetamine derivatives 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) have been used for recreational and therapeutic purposes in man. In rats, these drugs cause large reductions in brain levels of serotonin (5-HT). This study employs immunocytochemistry to characterize the neurotoxic effects of these compounds upon monoaminergic neurons in the rat brain. Two weeks after systemic administration of MDA or MDMA (20 mg/kg, s.c., twice daily for 4 d), there is profound loss of serotonergic (5-HT) axons throughout the forebrain; catecholamine axons are completely spared. Regional differences in drug toxicity are exemplified by partial sparing of 5-HT axons in hippocampus, lateral hypothalamus, basal forebrain, and in some areas of neocortex. The terminals of 5-HT axons are selectively ablated, while axons of passage and raphe cell bodies are spared. Thickened preterminal fibers exhibit increased staining due to damming-up of neurotransmitter and other axonal constituents. Fine 5-HT axon terminals are extremely vulnerable to these drugs, whereas terminal-like axons with large varicosities survive, raising the possibility that some 5-HT axons may be resistant to the neurotoxic effects. At short survivals, visualization of greatly swollen, fragmented 5-HT axons provides anatomic evidence for degeneration of 5-HT projections. The results establish that MDA and MDMA produce structural damage to 5-HT axon terminals followed by lasting denervation of the forebrain. Both drugs have similar effects, but MDA produces a greater reduction of 5-HT axons than does MDMA at the same dosage. The selective degeneration of 5-HT axons indicates that these drugs may serve as experimental tools to analyze the organization and function of 5-HT projections. Caution should be exercised until further studies determine whether these compounds may be hazardous in man.

MDA
Toxicity
MDA v LSD
MDA: structure
MDA (from PIHKAL)
Protect and survive
MDA: optical isomers
MDA dual stimulus effects
MDA-assisted psychotherapy


Refs
and further reading

HOME
HedWeb
Nootropics
Cocaine.org
Future Opioids
BLTC Research
MDMA/Ecstasy
Superhapiness?
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide

The Responsible Parent's Guide
To Healthy Mood Boosters For All The Family