Demonstration and localization of neuronal degeneration in the rat forebrain following a single exposure to MDMA
by
Schmued LC.
Department of Neurotoxicology,
National Center for Toxicological Research/FDA,
72079, Jefferson, AR, USA
Brain Res 2003 Jun 6;974(1-2):127-33


ABSTRACT

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy) is a powerful releaser of serotonin. Increasing recreational use of this stimulant and hallucinogenic drug has raised concerns about its potential to produce brain damage. The vast majority of previous research studies have focused on the compound's ability to deplete serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) from axon terminals. Despite extensive research on this '5-HT terminal neurotoxicity', a much less studied aspect of MDMA toxicity involves its ability to actually kill nerve cells. Only two prior studies mention the existence of MDMA-induced neuronal degeneration, as reflected by a limited number of argyrophylic neurons within the somatosensory cortex, following very high doses of MDMA. The development of Fluoro-Jade B as a simple and reliable marker of neuronal degeneration has allowed us to conduct the first comprehensive localization of MDMA induced neuronal degeneration throughout the entire rat forebrain. In addition to the previously reported neuronal degeneration within parietal cortex, degenerating neurons were also observed in the insular/perirhinal cortex, the ventromedial/ventrolateral thalamus, and the tenia tecta. The extent of neuronal degeneration observed generally correlated with the degree of hyperthermia achieved.

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