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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999 Jul;290(1):136-45.

Cardiovascular and neuroendocrine effects and pharmacokinetics of 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine in humans.

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Department of Pharmacology, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.


The cardiovascular and neuroendocrine effects and pharmacokinetics of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") were assessed in a double-blind, randomized, crossover, and controlled (placebo and amphetamine) clinical trial. Eight men with experience in the recreational use of MDMA participated in four 10-h experimental sessions with a 1-week washout period. Single oral doses of 125 mg and 75 mg of MDMA, 40 mg of amphetamine, and placebo were given. Both MDMA doses significantly increased blood pressure (increases of 40 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure), heart rate (increases of 30 beats/min), and pupillary diameter (mydriasis) as compared with placebo. Oral temperature did not show significant changes in any drug-active condition. Plasma cortisol levels showed a statistically significant increase after MDMA administration. Prolactin levels only increased after high dose of MDMA. Cmax values for 125-mg and 75-mg MDMA doses were 236.4 and 130.9 ng/ml, and Tmax was observed at 2.4 and 1.8 h, respectively. Elimination half-life was 8.6 h and 7.7 h for high and low MDMA doses, respectively. Amphetamine half-life was 15 h. Between 8 and 9% of the doses of MDMA appeared in plasma in the form of 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine. The important cardiovascular effects observed after MDMA administration in laboratory conditions at rest (increases of 40 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 30 beats/min in pulse rate) could be relevant in terms of toxicity in real-life conditions (e.g., crowded places and physical activity).

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