The Effects of Chronic Administration of 3,4- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") on Neural Pathways of the Heart in Conscious Rats
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3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") has been recently growing in popularity with college students through dance parties called "raves", despite it's Schedule I status from the U.S. Drug enforcement agency. MDMA has been found to be a neurotoxin in the brain to every animal studied to date (which causes concern for recreational abuse). The extent of serotonergic (5-HT) neurotoxicity in the brain is well documented, and MDMA even affects dopamine levels in the brain at high doses. Serotonin is also used as a neurotransmitter in neural pathways of the heart, and this in vivo study gives a preliminary examination on whether MDMA is affecting sympathetic (5-HT) activation of the heart through the Bezold-Jarish reflex of conscious rats. In addition, the study examines whether MDMA's neurotoxic affects increase or decrease the sensitivity of acetylcholine on the Bezold-Jarish reflex. The results indicate that evidence of 5-HT neurotoxicity in the brain, there does not appear to be any affect on the sympathetic (5-HT) activation of the heart. Moreover, MDMA does not increase or decrease sensitivity of acetylcholine in the Bezold-Jarish reflex. However, MDMA appears to affect the alpha-2 receptors (receptors responsible for Ketamine/Xylazine anesthetic) in rats. After chronic administration of MDMA, many rats did not survive surgery. Thus, MDMA may be altering alpha-2 receptors in a way so that Ketamine/Xylazine anesthetized animals cannot regain consciousness with injection of Yohimbine.