Restoration of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced 5-HT depletion by the administration of L-5-hydroxytryptophan.Neuroscience. 2007 Aug 10; 148(1):212-20.N
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) causes persistent decreases in brain 5-HT content and 5-HT transporter (SERT) binding, with no detectable changes in SERT protein. Such data suggest that MDMA impairs 5-HT transmission but leaves 5-HT nerve terminals intact. To further test this hypothesis, we carried out two types of experiments in rats exposed to high-dose MDMA. First, we examined the effects of MDMA on SERT binding and function using different in vitro assay conditions. Next, we treated rats with the 5-HT precursor, l-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), in an attempt to restore MDMA-induced depletions of 5-HT.
Rats received three i.p. injections of saline or MDMA (7.5 mg/kg), one injection every 2 h. Rats in one group were decapitated, and brain tissue was assayed for SERT binding and [(3)H]5-HT uptake under conditions of normal (100 or 126 mM) and low (20 mM) NaCl concentration. Rats from another group received saline or 5-hydroxytryptophan/benserazide (5-HTP-B), each drug at 50 mg/kg i.p., and were killed 2 h later.
MDMA reduced SERT binding to 10% of control when assayed in 100 mM NaCl, but this reduction was only 55% of control in 20 mM NaCl. MDMA decreased immunoreactive 5-HT in caudate and hippocampus to about 35% of control. Administration of 5-HTP-B to MDMA-pretreated rats significantly increased the 5-HT signal toward normal levels in caudate (85% of control) and hippocampus (66% of control).
1) Following high-dose MDMA treatment sufficient to reduce SERT binding by 90%, a significant number of functionally intact 5-HT nerve terminals survive. 2) The degree of MDMA-induced decreases in SERT binding depends on the in vitro assay conditions. 3) 5-HTP-B restores brain 5-HT depleted by MDMA, suggesting that this approach might be clinically useful in abstinent MDMA users.