3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or “ecstasy”) is a widespread drug of abuse with known neurotoxic properties. The present study aimed to evaluate the differential toxic effects of MDMA in adolescent and aged Wistar rats, using doses pharmacologically comparable to humans. Adolescent (post-natal day 40) (3 × 5 mg/kg, 2 h apart) and aged (mean 20 months old) (2 × 5 mg/kg, 2 h apart) rats received MDMA intraperitoneally. Animals were killed 7 days later, and the frontal cortex, hippocampus, striatum and cerebellum brain areas were dissected, and heart, liver and kidneys were collected. MDMA caused hyperthermia in both treated groups, but aged rats had a more dramatic temperature elevation. MDMA promoted serotonergic neurotoxicity only in the hippocampus of aged, but not in the adolescents’ brain, and did not change the levels of dopamine or serotonin metabolite in the striatum of both groups. Differential responses according to age were also seen regarding brain p-Tau levels, a hallmark of a degenerative brain, since only aged animals had significant increases. MDMA evoked brain oxidative stress in the hippocampus and striatum of aged, and in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and striatum brain areas of adolescents according to protein carbonylation, but only decreased GSH levels in the hippocampus of aged animals. The brain maturational stage seems crucial for MDMA-evoked serotonergic neurotoxicity. Aged animals were more susceptible to MDMA-induced tissue damage in the heart and kidneys, and both ages had an increase in liver fibrotic tissue content. In conclusion, age is a determinant factor for the toxic events promoted by “ecstasy”. This work demonstrated special susceptibility of aged hippocampus to MDMA neurotoxicity, as well as impressive damage to the heart and kidney tissue following “ecstasy”.
Archives of Toxicology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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