Repeated MDMA ("Ecstasy") exposure in adolescent male rats alters temperature regulation, spontaneous motor activity, attention, and serotonin transporter binding

Dev Psychobiol. 2005 Sep;47(2):145-57. doi: 10.1002/dev.20085.


Previous research in our laboratory found that repeated exposure of adolescent rats to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) impaired working memory and reduced anxiety. The present experiment extended these findings by investigating the physiological, behavioral, and neurotoxic effects of a modified MDMA treatment regimen. Male Sprague-Dawley rats received 5 mg/kg of MDMA hourly for a period of 4 hr on every fifth day from postnatal day 35-60. Acute effects of the MDMA treatment included hypothermia, serotonin syndrome behavior, and ejaculation. Body weight gain was attenuated by repeated drug administration. The animals completed anxiety and working memory tests beginning 4 days after the final MDMA dose. MDMA altered habituation to the open-field, increased locomotor activity in the elevated plus-maze, decreased attention in the novel object-recognition test, and reduced serotonin transporter binding in the neocortex. These results indicate that repeated exposure to a relatively moderate MDMA dose during adolescence produces later changes in behavior and neurochemistry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ejaculation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / toxicity*
  • Protein Binding / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin Agents / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Agents / toxicity
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Serotonin Agents
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine