Relevance of MDMA ("ecstasy")-induced neurotoxicity to long-lasting psychomotor stimulation in mice
Itzhak Y, Ali SF, Achat CN, Anderson KL.
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences (R-629),
Gautier Building Room # 503, University of Miami School of Medicine,
1011 NW 15th Street, FL 33136, Miami, USA.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2003 Feb 18


RATIONALE. Although many studies have focused on the mechanisms underlying MDMA-induced neurotoxicity, little is known about the subsequent long-term response to psychostimulants following exposure to a neurotoxic dose of MDMA. OBJECTIVES. We investigated the effect of pre-exposure to neurotoxic and non-neurotoxic doses of MDMA on the response of mice to the psychomotor stimulating effects of MDMA and cocaine. METHODS. To investigate MDMA-induced neurotoxicity, male Swiss Webster mice were subjected to three regimens of MDMA: i) 40 mg/kgx2, ii) 30 mg/kgx2, and iii) 15 mg/kgx2 for 2 days. On day 5 following the last exposure to MDMA, the levels of dopaminergic and serotonergic markers were determined. For the behavioral experiments, mice received either a single injection of 10 mg/kg MDMA [MDMA(L)] or one of the following doses of MDMA: 30 mg/kgx2 or 15 mg/kgx2 for 2 days [MDMA (H)]. A third group received saline as a control. On day 5 after the last pretreatment injection, the first MDMA (10 mg/kg) challenge was given, and on day 12, cocaine (20 mg/kg) was administered. Subsequently, mice were re-challenged with MDMA on days 35, 50 and 80, after which locomotor activity was monitored by infrared beam-interrupts. On day 83, mice were killed to detect the levels of dopaminergic and serotonergic markers. RESULTS. MDMA-induced mortality and depletion of dopaminergic and serotonergic markers were dose-dependent. MDMA (H) mice endured a sensitized response to MDMA challenge from days 5 through 80, e.g. a persistent 3-fold increase in locomotor activity compared to the response of mice that were not pretreated with a neurotoxic dose of MDMA. The depletion of DAT and 5-HTT binding sites was sustained throughout this time period (64-68% of control). The MDMA (L) mice showed a sensitized response to MDMA only on day 5. Both MDMA (L) and MDMA (H) mice were sensitized to the cocaine challenge. CONCLUSIONS. The induction of sensitization to the locomotor stimulating effects of MDMA and cocaine was independent of MDMA-induced neurotoxicity. However, the long-lasting maintenance of the sensitized response to MDMA may be related to the enduring neurotoxicity caused by MDMA.

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