Repeated weekly exposure to MDMA, methamphetamine or their combination: long-term behavioural and neurochemical effects in rats

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jan 12;86(2-3):183-90. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2006.06.004. Epub 2006 Aug 1.


In recent work we have documented lasting adverse neurochemical and behavioural effects in rats given short-term 'binge' dosing with methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy), methamphetamine (METH) or their combination. Here we investigated whether similar effects persist in rats given 16 weekly injections followed by a 10 week period of abstinence. Female rats received MDMA (8 mg/kg, i.p.), METH (8 mg/kg), or a MDMA/METH combination (4 mg/kg MDMA + 4 mg/kg METH), once a week for 16 weeks, with locomotor activity and body temperature measured on weeks 1, 8 and 16. The MDMA and MDMA/METH groups showed acute drug-induced hyperthermia on week 1 only. MDMA-treated rats demonstrated an acute hyperactivity while METH and MDMA/METH treated rats showed pronounced stereotypy. Seven weeks after drug-treatment concluded, a decrease in social interaction was observed in all chronically drug-treated rats. No group differences were evident on the emergence, object recognition or forced swim tests. Neurochemical analysis revealed modest noradrenaline and serotonin depletion in chronically treated rats that was not evident following a single equivalent administration. These results indicate that although chronic, intermittent exposure to MDMA, METH or their combination, may not lead to significant long-term monoamine depletion, lasting adverse behavioural effects may persist, especially those related to social behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / chemically induced*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Methamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • Methamphetamine / toxicity*
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / toxicity*
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Social Behavior*
  • Time


  • Serotonin
  • Methamphetamine
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Norepinephrine