Toxic effects of MDMA on central serotonergic neurons in the primate: importance of route and frequency of drug administration

Brain Res. 1988 Apr 12;446(1):165-8. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(88)91309-1.


This study compared the toxic effects of oral versus subcutaneous and single versus multiple doses of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on central serotonergic neurons in non-human primates. Orally administered MDMA was approximately one-half as effective as subcutaneously administered drug. Multiple doses were more effective than single doses, but a single 5 mg/kg dose of MDMA given orally still produced a long-lasting depletion of serotonin in the monkey brain. These results indicate that when MDMA is given to monkeys in a manner similar to that employed by humans, it exerts toxic effects on central serotonergic neurons. This suggests that humans using MDMA may be at risk for incurring central serotonergic neuronal damage.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / administration & dosage
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / analogs & derivatives
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / toxicity*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Amphetamines / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Saimiri
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


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