3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is an illicit drug that has been associated with serotonergic axonal degeneration in animals. This study evaluates neurochemical abnormalities in recreational MDMA users. Twenty-two MDMA users and 37 normal subjects were evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) in the mid-frontal, mid-occipital, and parietal brain regions. (1)H MRS showed normal N-acetyl (NA) compounds in all brain regions. The myo-inositol (MI) concentration (+16.3%, P = 0.04) and the MI to creatine (CR) ratio (+14.1%, P = 0. 01) were increased in the parietal white matter of MDMA users. The cumulative lifetime MDMA dose showed significant effects on [MI] in the parietal white matter and the occipital cortex. The normal NA concentration suggests a lack of significant neuronal injury in recreational MDMA users. However, the usage-related increase in MI suggests that exposure to MDMA, even at recreational doses, may cause increased glial content. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 1999;10:521-526.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.