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Tai YF, Hoshi R, Brignell CM, Cohen L, Brooks DJ, Curran HV, Piccini P. 
“Persistent Nigrostriatal Dopaminergic Abnormalities in Ex-Users of MDMA 'Ecstasy': An 18F-Dopa PET Study”. 
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Mar 10;36(4):735-43.
Ecstasy 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA is a popular recreational drug with known serotonergic neurotoxicity. Its long-term effects on dopaminergic function are less certain. Studying the long-term effects of ecstasy is often confounded by concomitant polydrug use and the short duration of abstinence. We used 18F-dopa positron emission tomography PET to investigate the long-term effects of ecstasy on nigrostriatal dopaminergic function in a group of male ex-recreational users of ecstasy who had been abstinent for a mean of 3.22 years. We studied 14 ex-ecstasy users EEs, 14 polydrug-using controls PCs matched to the ex-users for other recreational drug use, and 12 drug-naive controls DCs. Each participant underwent one 18F-dopa PET, cognitive assessments, and hair and urinary analyses to corroborate drug-use history. The putamen 18F-dopa uptake of EEs was 9 higher than that of DCs p=0.021. The putamen uptake rate of PCs fell between the other two groups, suggesting that the hyperdopaminergic state in EEs may be due to the combined effects of ecstasy and polydrug use. There was no relationship between the amount of ecstasy used and striatal 18F-dopa uptake. Increased putaminal 18F-dopa uptake in EEs after an abstinence of >3 years mean suggests that the effects are long lasting. Our findings suggest potential long-term effects of ecstasy use, in conjunction with other recreational drugs, on nigrostriatal dopaminergic functions. Further longitudinal studies are required to elucidate the significance of these findings as they may have important public health implications.
Comments and Responses to this Article
Status: display
Apr 17, 2011 1:59
Troubling No Dose-Response Relationship #

Note this sentence in the article: 'There was no relationship between the amount of ecstasy used and striatal 18F-dopa uptake.'

Note that the finding was NOT lower dopamine levels, as was reported in the erroneous work from the Ricaurte lab, but is a more complex change in DA handling.

Also, the effect sizes on performance measures are fairly small.
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