Toxicity of MDA (3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine) considered for relevance to hazards of MDMA (Ecstasy) abuse

Alcohol Drug Res. 1987;7(3):123-34.


Despite a paucity of data on its animal pharmacology and toxicology, MDMA [Ecstasy, XTC, ADAM; (+/-)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine] was introduced as an "underground" (FDA-unapproved) adjunct to psychotherapy in the late 1970's and early 1980's, in addition to its use as a recreational drug. Analysis of the limited experimental literature indicates that LD50's for MDMA in five species by several routes of administration tend to predict a significant human toxicity. MDMA was either equally toxic or slightly to moderately less toxic than its close congener, MDA, (+/-)-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine. It is suggested that extrapolation of the pharmacologic/toxicologic data available for MDA to MDMA should be assumed to be valid until disproven. Recently published canine data describe physiologic disturbances caused by acute overdosage of MDA, and also indicate the utility of chlorpromazine as an antidote preventing fatalities associated with severe hyperthermia, lactacidemia, hypertension and tachycardia. The toxicology of MDMA warrants further direct study in view of its continuing illegal distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / analogs & derivatives
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / toxicity*
  • Amphetamines / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Species Specificity
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Amphetamines
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine