Despite poisoning with the ecstasy substitute para-methoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) being typically associated with severe hyperthermia and death, behavioral and toxicological data on this drug are missing. Herein we present the behavioral profile of PMMA, its hyperthermic potency and pharmacokinetic profile in rats. The effects of PMMA 5 and 20 mg/kg on locomotion, on prepulse inhibition (PPI) of acoustic startle reaction (ASR), on body temperature under isolated and crowded conditions and on the pharmacokinetics analyzed with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) were evaluated. PMMA increased overall locomotion with the higher dose showing a biphasic effect. PPI was decreased dose-dependently. The hyperthermic response was present only with PMMA 20 mg/kg and was accompanied by extensive perspiration under crowded conditions. Serum levels of PMMA peaked at approximately 30 min after both treatments; on the contrary the maximum brain concentrations of PMMA at 20 mg/kg peaked approximately 1h after the administration, which was rather delayed compared to maximum after 5mg/kg dose. These data indicate that PMMA has a similar behavioral profile to stimulants and hallucinogens and that the toxicity might be increased in a crowded environment. High doses of PMMA have a gradual penetration to the brain which might lead to the delayed peak concentrations and prolonged effects of the drug.
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