The Neurotoxic Effects of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and Methamphetamine on Serotonin, Dopamine, and GABA-ergic Terminals: An In-Vitro Autoradiographic Study In Rats

by Armstrong BD, Noguchi KK.
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science,
University of California at Los Angeles,
NPI 760 Westwood Plaza Room 67-373, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.
Neurotoxicology. 2004 Dec;25(6):905-14


Damage to serotonin (5-HT) terminals following doses of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is well documented, and this toxicity is thought to be related to dopamine release that is potentiated by the 5-HT(2A/2C) agonist effects of the drug [Neurotoxicology 19 (3) (1998) 427]. Although MDMA and methamphetamine (METH) have some similar dopaminergic activities, they differ in their 5-HT agonistic properties. It is reasoned that the study of the resultant toxicity following equimolar doses of MDMA and METH on both dopamine and 5-HT terminals should offer a comparison of the ability of these drugs to induce neurotoxicity. In order to measure the toxic effects to the brain, rats were given equimolar doses of MDMA (40mg/kg/day) and METH (32mg/kg/day) in subcutaneously implanted osmotic minipumps for a period of 5 days, and in-vitro autoradiography using [ [Formula: see text] ]-paroxetine, [ [Formula: see text] ]-mazindol, [ [Formula: see text] ]-methylspiperone, and [ [Formula: see text] ]-flunitrazepam, was performed on brain sections. The results showed that METH was more toxic to 5-HT terminals than MDMA in forebrain regions, including the anterior cingulate, caudate nucleus, nucleus accumbens, and septum. METH was also more toxic than MDMA to dopamine terminals in the habenula, and posterior retrosplenial cortex. Therefore, we find that METH was more toxic to 5-HT and dopamine terminals in specific brain regions in both pre and post-synaptic sites following continuous equimolar dosing.