Review article: mechanisms and management of hepatotoxicity in ecstasy (MDMA) and amphetamine intoxications

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Feb;13(2):129-33. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.1999.00454.x.


The social use of ecstasy (methylenedioxymethampheta-mine, MDMA) and amphetamines is widespread in the UK and Europe, and they are popularly considered as 'safe'. However, deaths have occurred and hepatotoxicity has featured in many cases of intoxication with amphetamine or its methylenedioxy analogues such as ecstasy. Recreational use of these drugs presents an important but often concealed cause of hepatitis or acute liver failure, particularly in young people. The patterns of liver damage and multiple putative mechanisms of injury are discussed. Recognition of the aetiological agent requires a high index of suspicion. Optimum management of the resultant liver damage, including the controversial role of liver transplantation for fulminant hepatic failure, is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / poisoning*


  • Amphetamine
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine