The mechanisms involved in the long-lasting neuroprotective effect of fluoxetine against MDMA ('ecstasy')-induced degeneration of 5-HT nerve endings in rat brain
Sanchez V, Camarero J, Esteban B, Peter MJ, Green AR, Colado MI.
Departamento de Farmacologia,
Facultad de Medicina,
Universidad Complutense, Madrid 28040, Spain.
Pharmacology Research Group,
School of Pharmacy, De Montfort University,
Leicester LE1 9BH.
AstraZeneca R&D Charnwood,
Bakewell Road, Loughborough LE11 5RH.
Br J Pharmacol 2001 Sep;134(1):46-57


1. It has been reported that co-administration of fluoxetine with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') prevents MDMA-induced degeneration of 5-HT nerve endings in rat brain. The mechanisms involved have now been investigated. 2. MDMA (15 mg kg(-1), i.p.) administration produced a neurotoxic loss of 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in cortex, hippocampus and striatum and a reduction in cortical [3H]-paroxetine binding 7 days later. 3. Fluoxetine (10 mg kg(-1), i.p., x2, 60 min apart) administered concurrently with MDMA or given 2 and 4 days earlier provided complete protection, and significant protection when given 7 days earlier. Fluvoxamine (15 mg kg(-1), i.p., x2, 60 min apart) only produced neuroprotection when administered concurrently. Fluoxetine (10 mg kg(-1), x2) markedly increased the K(D) and reduced the B(max) of cortical [3H]-paroxetine binding 2 and 4 days later. The B(max) was still decreased 7 days later, but the K(D) was unchanged. [3H]-Paroxetine binding characteristics were unchanged 24 h after fluvoxamine (15 mg kg(-1), x2). 4. A significant cerebral concentration of fluoxetine plus norfluoxetine was detected over the 7 days following fluoxetine administration. The fluvoxamine concentration had decreased markedly by 24 h. 5. Pretreatment with fluoxetine (10 mg kg(-1), x2) failed to alter cerebral MDMA accumulation compared to saline pretreated controls. 6. Neither fluoxetine or fluvoxamine altered MDMA-induced acute hyperthermia. 7. These data demonstrate that fluoxetine produces long-lasting protection against MDMA-induced neurodegeneration, an effect apparently related to the presence of the drug and its active metabolite inhibiting the 5-HT transporter. Fluoxetine does not alter the metabolism of MDMA or its rate of cerebral accumulation.

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