Mood, cognition and serotonin transporter
availability in current and former ecstasy (MDMA) users

Thomasius R, Petersen K, Buchert R, Andresen B,
Zapletalova P, Wartberg L, Nebeling B, Schmoldt A.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,
University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf,
Martinistrasse 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2003 Mar 11


RATIONALE. Chronic recreational ecstasy (MDMA) use has often been reported to be associated with psychopathology, memory impairments and serotonergic alterations. However, the findings have not been consistent. OBJECTIVES. To attempt to replicate these findings, to investigate whether such alterations would be reversible and whether they could be predicted by parameters of previous drug use. METHODS. In a cross-sectional design, 30 current and 31 ex-ecstasy users with ecstasy abstinence of at least 5 months, and 29 polydrug and 30 drug-naive controls were compared on measures of psychopathology, cognitive performance and serotonin transporter availability. RESULTS. The groups did not differ significantly in age, gender distribution, education level and premorbid intelligence. The ecstasy groups did not differ significantly from polydrug controls on most of the relevant parameters of concomitant illegal drug use. Reported drug use was confirmed by hair and urine analyses. All three groups of drug users exhibited significantly elevated psychopathology compared with drug-naive controls. Only ex-ecstasy users were significantly impaired on verbal recall. Current ecstasy users showed significantly reduced distribution volume ratios of serotonin transporter availability in the mesencephalon and caudate nucleus. Regression analyses indicated that psychopathology and serotonergic alterations were best predicted by the number of ecstasy tablets taken on a typical event. CONCLUSION. The results indicate that verbal memory impairments were possibly aggravated after prolonged ecstasy abstinence while there was tentative evidence of serotonergic recovery. On the other hand, self-reported elevated psychopathology appeared to be associated with polydrug use in general and not specifically with ecstasy use.

Club drugs
Liver failure
Brain damage?
Kidney damage
Deaths in New York
Long-term brain damage?
Toxic metabolites of MDMA?
MDMA and sympathetic activity
A toxic intraneuronal metabolite of serotonin?
Electrophysiological evidence of 5-HT damage
Non-neurotoxic and neurotoxic serotonin-releasers
Ecstasy-induced toxicity and the dopamine transporter
MDMA (Ecstasy) : neuropharmacology and neurotoxicity
5-HT, 5-HIAA, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine
Lack of serotonin neurotoxicity after intracerebral Ecstasy microinjection

and further reading

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide

The Responsible Parent's Guide
To Healthy Mood Boosters For All The Family