Hippocampal serotonergic damage induced by MDMA (ecstasy): effects on spatial learning
Sprague JE, Preston AS, Leifheit M, Woodside B.
Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences,
Raabe College of Pharmacy,
Ohio Northern University,
45810, Ada, OH, USA
Physiol Behav. 2003 Jul;79(2):281-7


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) use has been associated with a decline in various aspects of mnemonic function in humans. We therefore postulated that MDMA-induced damage of serotonergic nerve terminals would alter hippocampal processing. Seven days following treatment with MDMA (2x20 mg/kg sc, given 12 h apart), rat spatial learning and memory were tested utilizing the Morris water maze (MWM). No statistical differences were found in MWM platform aquisition latency or pathlength between controls and MDMA-treated animals. Probe trials revealed significantly higher proximity score averages and significantly reduced preference for the target quadrant in the MDMA-treated animals. MDMA treatment resulted in significant reduction (34%) in hippocampal serotonin (5-HT) levels 14 days after initial treatment. The findings of this study demonstrate that hippocampal serotonergic lesions induced by MDMA may be ostensibly linked to a reference memory deficit in rats tested with the MWM.

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