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Commins DL, Vosmer G, Virus RM, Woolverton WL, Schuster CR, Seiden LS. 
“Biochemical and histological evidence that methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) is toxic to neurons in the rat brain”. 
J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1986;241(1):338-45.
Abstract
(+/-)-3,4-Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) was administered s.c. to rats (10, 20 or 40 mg/kg b. wt.) and guinea pigs (20 mg/kg) twice a day for 4 days, 2 weeks before decapitation. Norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin (5-HT) levels were assayed in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, striatum and neocortex. In rats, MDMA produced dose-dependent reductions in 5-HT in all brain regions examined. The highest dose also reduced norepinephrine and/or dopamine in some regions. The 20-mg/kg dose of MDMA depleted 5-HT in all regions of the guinea pig brain assayed. In both species, repeated administration of 20 mg/kg of MDMA reduced the Vmax but not the Km of 5-HT uptake 2 weeks after administration. A single 40-mg/kg injection of MDMA depleted 5-HT 2 and 8 weeks after administration to rats in all regions of the brain examined except the hypothalamus. Administration of 80 mg/kg of MDMA twice a day for 2 days to rats depleted striatal 5-HT and dopamine. Brain sections from rats injected with MDMA according to this dosage regimen were stained by the Fink-Heimer method. Degenerating axon terminals and cell bodies were observed in the striatum and somatosensory cortex, respectively. These findings suggest that MDMA is toxic to serotonergic and, to a lesser extent, catecholaminergic neurons. Some neurons that do not contain these transmitters (neocortical neurons) are also affected.
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