OPEN Foundation

W. Fantegrossi

In vivo effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its deuterated form in rodents: Drug discrimination and thermoregulation.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent clinical studies support the use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as an adjunct treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite these promising findings, MDMA administration in controlled settings can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Previous studies indicate thatO-demethylated metabolites of MDMA contribute to its adverse effects. As such, limiting the conversion of MDMA to reactive metabolites may mitigate some of its adverse effects and potentially improve its safety profile for therapeutic use.

METHODS:

We compared the interoceptive and hyperthermic effects of a deuterium-substituted form of MDMA (d2-MDMA) to MDMA using rodent drug discrimination and biotelemetry procedures, respectively.

RESULTS:

Compared to MDMA, d2-MDMA produced full substitution for a 1.5 mg/kg MDMA training stimulus with equal potency and effectiveness in the drug discrimination experiment. In addition, d2-MDMA produced increases in body temperature that were shorter-lasting and of lower magnitude compared to equivalent doses of MDMA. Last, d2-MDMA and MDMA were equally effective in reversing the hypothermic effects of the selective 5-HT2A/2C antagonist ketanserin.

CONCLUSION:

These findings indicate that deuterium substitution of hydrogen at the methylenedioxy ring moiety does not impact MDMA’s interoceptive effects, and compared to MDMA, d2-MDMA has less potential for producing hyperthermic effects and likely has similar pharmacodynamic properties. Given that d2-MDMA produces less adverse effects than MDMA, but retains similar desirable effects that are thought to relate to the effective treatment of PTSD, additional investigations into its effects on cardiovascular functioning and pharmacokinetic properties are warranted.

Berquist, M. D., Leth-Petersen, S., Kristensen, J. L., & Fantegrossi, W. E. (2020). In vivo effects of 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its deuterated form in rodents: drug discrimination and thermoregulation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 107850., 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.107850
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Locomotor effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its deuterated form in mice: psychostimulant effects, stereotypy, and sensitization

Abstract

Rationale

There is a renewed interest in the use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) for treating psychiatric conditions. Although MDMA has entered phase II clinical trials and shows promise as an adjunct treatment, there is an extensive literature detailing the potential neurotoxicity and adverse neurobehavioral effects associated with MDMA use. Previous research indicates that the adverse effects of MDMA may be due to its metabolism into reactive catechols that can enter the brain and serve directly as neurotoxicants. One approach to mitigate MDMA’s potential for adverse effects is to reduce O-demethylation by deuterating the methylenedioxy ring of MDMA. There are no studies that have evaluated the effects of deuterating MDMA on behavioral outcomes.

Objectives

The purpose of the present study was to assess the motor-stimulant effects of deuterated MDMA (d2-MDMA) and compare them to MDMA in male mice.

Methods

Two experiments were performed to quantify mouse locomotor activity and to vary the drug administration regimen (single bolus administration or cumulative administration).

Results

The results of Experiments 1 and 2 indicate that d2-MDMA is less effective at eliciting horizontal locomotion than MDMA; however, the differences between the compounds diminish as the number of cumulative administrations increase. Both d2-MDMA and MDMA can elicit sensitized responses, and these effects cross-sensitize to the prototypical drug of abuse methamphetamine. Thus, d2-MDMA functions as a locomotor stimulant similar to MDMA, but, depending on the dosing regimen, may be less susceptible to inducing sensitization to stereotyped movements.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that d2-MDMA is behaviorally active and produces locomotor effects that are similar to MDMA, which warrant additional assessments of d2-MDMA’s behavioral and physiological effects to determine the conditions under which this compound may serve as a relatively safer alternative to MDMA for clinical use.
Berquist, M. D., Leth-Petersen, S., Kristensen, J. L., & Fantegrossi, W. E. (2020). Locomotor effects of 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its deuterated form in mice: psychostimulant effects, stereotypy, and sensitization. Psychopharmacology237(2), 431-442; https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05380-3

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The behavioral pharmacology of hallucinogens

Abstract

Until very recently, comparatively few scientists were studying hallucinogenic drugs. Nevertheless, selective antagonists are available for relevant serotonergic receptors, the majority of which have now been cloned, allowing for reasonably thorough pharmacological investigation. Animal models sensitive to the behavioral effects of the hallucinogens have been established and exploited. Sophisticated genetic techniques have enabled the development of mutant mice, which have proven useful in the study of hallucinogens. The capacity to study post-receptor signaling events has lead to the proposal of a plausible mechanism of action for these compounds. The tools currently available to study the hallucinogens are thus more plentiful and scientifically advanced than were those accessible to earlier researchers studying the opioids, benzodiazepines, cholinergics, or other centrally active compounds. The behavioral pharmacology of phenethylamine, tryptamine, and ergoline hallucinogens are described in this review, paying particular attention to important structure activity relationships which have emerged, receptors involved in their various actions, effects on conditioned and unconditioned behaviors, and in some cases, human psychopharmacology. As clinical interest in the therapeutic potential of these compounds is once again beginning to emerge, it is important to recognize the wealth of data derived from controlled preclinical studies on these compounds.

Fantegrossi, W. E.,  Murnane, K. S., & Reissig, C. J. (2008). The behavioral pharmacology of hallucinogens. Biochemical Pharmacology 75(1), 17–33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2007.07.018
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22 May - Delivering Effective Psychedelic Clinical Trials

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