3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is an illicit psychoactive drug with cardiovascular effects that have not been fully described. In the current study, we observed the effects of acute MDMA on rabbit left ventricular function. We also observed the effects of MDMA on nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activity in cultured rat ventricular myocytes (H9c2). In the rabbit, MDMA (2 mg/kg) alone caused a significant increase in heart rate and a significant decrease in the duration of the cardiac cycle. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) by pretreatment with L-NAME (10 mg/kg) alone caused significant dysfunction in heart rate, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, duration of relaxation, duration of cardiac cycle, and mean left ventricular pressure. Pretreatment with L-NAME followed by treatment with MDMA caused significant dysfunction in additional parameters that were not abnormal upon exposure to either compound in isolation: duration of contraction, inotropy, and pulse pressure. Exposure to 1.0 mM MDMA for 6 h or 2.0 μM MDMA for 12 h caused increased nuclear localization of NF-κB in cultured H9c2 cells. The current results suggest that MDMA is acutely detrimental to heart function and that an intact cardiovascular NOS system is important to help mitigate early sequelae in some functional parameters. The delayed timing of NF-κB activation suggests that this factor may be relevant to MDMA induced cardiomyopathy of later onset.
Keywords: H9c2; MDMA; NF-kB; cardiac myocytes; ecstasy; iNOS; nuclear; rabbit.