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Investigation of serotonin-1A receptor function in the human psychopharmacology of MDMA


Hasler, F; Studerus, E; Lindner, K; Ludewig, S; Vollenweider, F X (2009). Investigation of serotonin-1A receptor function in the human psychopharmacology of MDMA. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23(8):923-935.

Abstract

Serotonin (5-HT) release is the primary pharmacological mechanism of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') action in the primate brain. Dopamine release and direct stimulation of dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT2A receptors also contributes to the overall action of MDMA. The role of 5-HT1A receptors in the human psychopharmacology of MDMA, however, has not yet been elucidated. In order to reveal the consequences of manipulation at the 5-HT1A receptor system on cognitive and subjective effects of MDMA, a receptor blocking study using the mixed beta-adrenoreceptor blocker/5-HT1A antagonist pindolol was performed. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled within-subject design, 15 healthy male subjects were examined under placebo (PL), 20 mg pindolol (PIN), MDMA (1.6 mg/kg b.wt.), MDMA following pre-treatment with pindolol (PIN-MDMA). Tasks from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery were used for the assessment of cognitive performance. Psychometric questionnaires were applied to measure effects of treatment on core dimensions of Altered States of Consciousness, mood and state anxiety. Compared with PL, MDMA significantly impaired sustained attention and visual-spatial memory, but did not affect executive functions. Pre-treatment with PIN did not significantly alter MDMA-induced impairment of cognitive performance and only exerted a minor modulating effect on two psychometric scales affected by MDMA treatment ('positive derealization' and 'dreaminess'). Our findings suggest that MDMA differentially affects higher cognitive functions, but does not support the hypothesis from animal studies, that some of the MDMA effects are causally mediated through action at the 5-HT1A receptor system.

Serotonin (5-HT) release is the primary pharmacological mechanism of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') action in the primate brain. Dopamine release and direct stimulation of dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT2A receptors also contributes to the overall action of MDMA. The role of 5-HT1A receptors in the human psychopharmacology of MDMA, however, has not yet been elucidated. In order to reveal the consequences of manipulation at the 5-HT1A receptor system on cognitive and subjective effects of MDMA, a receptor blocking study using the mixed beta-adrenoreceptor blocker/5-HT1A antagonist pindolol was performed. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled within-subject design, 15 healthy male subjects were examined under placebo (PL), 20 mg pindolol (PIN), MDMA (1.6 mg/kg b.wt.), MDMA following pre-treatment with pindolol (PIN-MDMA). Tasks from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery were used for the assessment of cognitive performance. Psychometric questionnaires were applied to measure effects of treatment on core dimensions of Altered States of Consciousness, mood and state anxiety. Compared with PL, MDMA significantly impaired sustained attention and visual-spatial memory, but did not affect executive functions. Pre-treatment with PIN did not significantly alter MDMA-induced impairment of cognitive performance and only exerted a minor modulating effect on two psychometric scales affected by MDMA treatment ('positive derealization' and 'dreaminess'). Our findings suggest that MDMA differentially affects higher cognitive functions, but does not support the hypothesis from animal studies, that some of the MDMA effects are causally mediated through action at the 5-HT1A receptor system.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1 November 2009
Deposited On:03 Jan 2009 19:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:35
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0269-8811
Publisher DOI:10.1177/0269881108094650
Related URLs:http://jop.sagepub.com/ (Publisher)
PubMed ID:18635693

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