Lack of serotonin neurotoxicity after intraraphe microinjection of (+)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

Joseph M. Paris, Kathryn A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Systemic administration of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) produces depletions of serotonin (5-HT) and its primary metabolite, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), decreases 5-HT reuptake sites and diminishes tryptophan hydroxylase activity in various forebrain regions. MDMA has been shown to be neurotoxic to the fine fibers originating from dorsal raphe (DR) 5-HT neurons but not the beaded fibers from the median raphe (MR) nucleus. In the present experiment, MDMA was microinjected directly into the DR or MR to determine whether differential neurotoxicity developed in the DR versus MR fiber systems as measured by 5-HT levels and immunocytochemistry. Two weeks following stereotaxic injection with either vehicle or ( + )MDMA (50 μ,g base in 2 μ1) into the DR or MR, rat brains were assayed for 5-HT and catecholamine content or 5-HT immunocytochemistry. HPLC analysis revealed no significant changes in monoamine or metabolite concentrations in the hippocampus and striatum of rats administered intra-DR or -MR ( + )MDMA. Raphe sections stained for 5-HT also did not reveal any apparent neurotoxicity. A single cerebral injection of ( + )MDMA does not produce neurotoxicity to 5-HT neuronal systems originating in the raphe, although neurotoxicity of multiple MDMA injections into these raphe nuclei cannot be ruled out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-119
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
  • Dorsal raphe
  • Median raphe
  • Microinjections
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Rat
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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