Treatment with MDMA from P11-20 disrupts spatial learning and path integration learning in adolescent rats but only spatial learning in older rats.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 Dec; 189(3):307-18.P
Previous studies in rats showed that postnatal day (P)11-20 exposure to +/-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) causes learning and memory deficits in adulthood. The emergence and permanence of these learning deficits are currently unknown.
This study was designed to investigate learning and memory deficits in adolescent (P30 or P40) and older (P180 or P360) rats exposed to MDMA from P11-20.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Within each litter half the animals were exposed to MDMA (20 mg/kg) and half to saline (SAL) twice a day (8 h apart) from P11-20. In experiment (exp) 1, behavioral testing began on either P30 or P40, whereas in exp 2, testing began on either P180 or P360. Offspring were tested in the Cincinnati water maze (CWM), a test of path integration learning (2 trials/day for 5 days), and the Morris water maze (MWM) (three phases, with 5 days of 4 trials/day and a probe trial on the sixth day per phase).
MDMA-treated rats took longer to find the platform and traveled a greater distance to find the platform at all ages tested in all phases of the MWM. MDMA-treated animals also spent less time in the target quadrant during probe trials. In the CWM, P30 and P40 animals took longer to find the goal and committed more errors in locating the goal, while P180 and P360 MDMA-treated animals performed similarly to SAL-treated animals.
The data suggest that the spatial learning and memory deficits induced by MDMA are long lasting, while the path integration deficits recover over time.