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Serotonergic Neurotoxicity and Depression Following MDMA Administration

Frisse, Ann Catherine

The toxicology of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), often referred to as ecstasy, was first evaluated by the U.S. military in the 1950s. In the late 1970s into the early 1980s, this drug was used in psychotherapy sessions to increase self-esteem and facilitate conversation. In 1985, the DEA classified MDMA as a Schedule 1 drug due to potential neurotoxic effects and addictive properties. MDMA use continued, albeit illegally, and became strongly associated with the rave scene of the 1990s. This drug is now used by a wider demographic and is rising in popularity among young adults (Green, Mechan, Elliott, O'Shea, & Colado, 2003). The appeal of this drug stems from the rapid release of serotonin (5-HT) and resulting euphoria experienced after administration. More specifically, MDMA binds to the 5-HT transporter (SERT) with high affinity and blocks reuptake of 5-HT. It also enters neurons via this transporter. Once inside the neuron the drug stimulates 5-HT release from the synaptic vesicles into the cytoplasm. The SERTs then reverse direction, releasing 5-HT from the cytoplasm into the extracellular fluid. The acute and long-term deleterious effects of this process on serotonergic neurons are not well understood. The extensive history of the drug, its rising popularity, and inconsistent research findings on MDMA mediated neurotoxicity suggest a need to review the current literature pertaining to potential neurotoxic effects of MDMA.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology (Barnard College)
Degree
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
April 15, 2011
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