3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as "Ecstasy", is a common recreational drug of abuse. Several previous studies have attributed the central serotonergic neurotoxicity of MDMA to distal axotomy, since only fine serotonergic axons ascending from the raphe nucleus are lost without apparent damage to their cell bodies. However, this axotomy has never been visualized directly in vivo. The present study examined the axonal integrity of the efferent projections from the midbrain raphe nucleus after MDMA exposure using in vivo manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI). Rats were injected subcutaneously six times with MDMA (5 mg/kg) or saline once daily. Eight days after the last injection, manganese ions (Mn2+) were injected stereotactically into the raphe nucleus, and a series of MEMRI images was acquired over a period of 38 h to monitor the evolution of Mn2+-induced signal enhancement across the ventral tegmental area, the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), and the striatum. The MDMA-induced loss of serotonin transporters was clearly evidenced by immunohistological staining consistent with the Mn2+-induced signal enhancement observed across the MFB and striatum. MEMRI successfully revealed the disruption of the serotonergic raphe-striatal projections and the variable effect of MDMA on the kinetics of Mn2+ accumulation in the MFB and striatum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)