Multiple molecular and neuropharmacological effects of MDMA (Ecstasy)
by
Simantov R.
Department of Molecular Genetics,
Weizmann Institute of Science,
Rehovot 76100, Israel
Life Sci. 2004 Jan 2;74(7):803-14.


ABSTRACT

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly referred to as Ecstasy, is a widely abused, psychoactive recreational drug, which induces short- and long-term neuropsychiatric behaviors. This drug is neurotoxic to serotonergic neurons in vivo, and induces programmed cell death in cultured human serotonergic cells and rat neocortical neurons. Over the years it has been shown that MDMA alters the release of several neurotransmitters in the brain, it induces recompartmentation of intracellular serotonin and c-fos, and modifies the expression of a few genes. Recently, we observed changes in gene expression in mice treated with MDMA, and cloned and sequenced 11 cDNAs thus affected (4 correspond to known and 7 to unknown genes). The effect of MDMA on two of these genes, GABA transporter 1 and synaptotagmin IV was studied in detail. Characterization of the relationship between a given gene and certain physiological or behavioral effects of MDMA could shed light on the mechanism of the drug's action. However, establishing such a connection is difficult for several reasons, including that serotonergic neurons are not the only cells affected by MDMA. In this review, molecular and neurochemical events that occur in the brain following exposure to MDMA, and link between the observed molecular changes with known physiological effects of the drug are discussed. It is indicated that MDMA alters the expression of several proteins involved in GABA neurotransmission, thus having critical effect on thermoregulation and MDMA acute toxicity. This analysis should facilitate development of novel approaches to prevent deleterious effects, especially mortality induced by MDMA and other abused psychostimulants.


History
Serotonin
Ecstatic rats
Serotonin dip
Controversies
Alexander Shulgin
Human pharmacology
The pharmacology of Ecstasy
Behavioral pharmacology of MDMA


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