Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) occurs through the stimulation of serotonin receptors and transporter
Kramer HK, Poblete JC, Azmitia EC.
Department of Psychiatry,
New York University Medical Center,
NY 10016, USA.
Neuropsychopharmacology 1997 Sep;17(3):117-29


This report further characterizes the intermediate metabolic effects of the psychotropic amphetamine derivative, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "ecstasy"), on the activity of second messenger-dependent kinases. Previous work has demonstrated that two injections of MDMA (20 mg/kg) elicits a prolonged translocation of the calcium and phospholipid-dependent enzyme, protein kinase C (PKC) in rats. However, because MDMA has actions at the 5-HT transporter and 5-HT2A/2C receptors, our experiments were directed at uncovering which of these many sites may be involved in this second messenger dependent response. A single injection of MDMA produced a time- and dose-dependent increase in the density of cortical and hippocampal PKC (as measured by 3H-phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) binding sites. MDMA-mediated PKC translocation was long-lasting and remained above control (saline-treated rats) for up to 24 h after injection. This effect was mimicked by another substituted amphetamine, p-chloroamphetamine (pCA), but with a temporal-response curve that was to the left of MDMA's. However, pure uptake inhibitors like fluoxetine, cocaine, and the selective 5-HT2A/2C agonist, DOB, were unable to produce a long-lasting translocation of PKC binding sites in rat cortex. Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and ketanserin a 5-HT2A antagonist, attenuated PKC translocation by MDMA with differing efficacies; however, both compounds completely prevented the loss of 5-HT uptake sties after multiple doses of MDMA. These results suggest that MDMA increases PKC translocation by two interrelated mechanisms that involve 5-HT2A/2C receptors and the 5-HT transporter. This pathway appears to include: (1) the drug binding to the 5-HT transporter, (2) the release of cytosolic 5-HT stores into the extracellular space, and (3) the activation of post-synaptic 5-HT2A/2C receptors linked to G-protein-mediated phospholipid hydrolysis.

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