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Chronic MDMA induces neurochemical changes in the hippocampus of adolescent and young adult rats: Down-regulation of apoptotic markers

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Abstract

While hippocampus is a brain region particularly susceptible to the effects of MDMA, the cellular and molecular changes induced by MDMA are still to be fully elucidated, being the dosage regimen, the species and the developmental stage under study great variables. This study compared the effects of one and four days of MDMA administration following a binge paradigm (3×5 mg/kg, i.p., every 2 h) on inducing hippocampal neurochemical changes in adolescent (PND 37) and young adult (PND 58) rats. The results showed that chronic MDMA caused hippocampal protein deficits in adolescent and young adult rats at different levels: (1) impaired serotonergic (5-HT2A and 5-HT2C post-synaptic receptors) and GABAergic (GAD2 enzyme) signaling, and (2) decreased structural cytoskeletal neurofilament proteins (NF-H, NF-M and NF-L). Interestingly, these effects were not accompanied by an increase in apoptotic markers. In fact, chronic MDMA inhibited proteins of the apoptotic pathway (i.e., pro-apoptotic FADD, Bax and cytochrome c) leading to an inhibition of cell death markers (i.e., p-JNK1/2, cleavage of PARP-1) and suggesting regulatory mechanisms in response to the neurochemical changes caused by the drug. The data, together with the observed lack of GFAP activation, support the view that chronic MDMA effects, regardless of the rat developmental age, extends beyond neurotransmitter systems to impair other hippocampal structural cell markers. Interestingly, inhibitory changes in proteins from the apoptotic pathway might be taking place to overcome the protein deficits caused by MDMA.

García-Cabrerizo, R., & García-Fuster, M. J. (2015). Chronic MDMA induces neurochemical changes in the hippocampus of adolescent and young adult rats: Down-regulation of apoptotic markers. Neurotoxicology, 49, 104-113. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2015.06.001

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