On the role of tyrosine and peripheral metabolism in 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-induced serotonin neurotoxicity in rats.Neuropharmacology. 2008 Apr; 54(5):885-900.N
The mechanisms underlying 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-induced serotonergic (5-HT) toxicity remain unclear. It has been suggested that MDMA depletes 5-HT by increasing brain tyrosine levels, which via non-enzymatic hydroxylation leads to DA-derived free radical formation. Because this hypothesis assumes the pre-existence of hydroxyl radicals, we hypothesized that MDMA metabolism into pro-oxidant compounds is the limiting step in this process. Acute hyperthermia, plasma tyrosine levels and concentrations of MDMA and its main metabolites were higher after a toxic (15 mg/kg i.p.) vs. a non-toxic dose of MDMA (7.5mg/kg i.p.). The administration of a non-toxic dose of MDMA in combination with l-tyrosine (0.2 mmol/kg i.p.) produced a similar increase in serum tyrosine levels to those found after a toxic dose of MDMA; however, brain 5-HT content remained unchanged. The non-toxic dose of MDMA combined with a high dose of tyrosine (0.5 mmol/kg i.p.), caused long-term 5-HT depletions in rats treated at 21.5 degrees C but not in those treated at 15 degrees C, conditions known to decrease MDMA metabolism. Furthermore, striatal perfusion of MDMA (100 microM for 5h) combined with tyrosine (0.5 mmol/kg i.p.) in hyperthermic rats did not cause 5-HT depletions. By contrast, rats treated with the non-toxic dose of MDMA under heating conditions or combined with entacapone or acivicin, which interfere with MDMA metabolism or increase brain MDMA metabolite availability respectively, showed significant reductions of brain 5-HT content. Altogether, these data indicate that although tyrosine may contribute to MDMA-induced toxicity, MDMA metabolism appears to be the limiting step.