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Br J Pharmacol. 2001 Jun;133(3):429-37.

Vascular actions of MDMA involve alpha1 and alpha2-adrenoceptors in the anaesthetized rat.

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Department of Physiology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.


We have investigated the effects of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy'), i.v., on diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in pithed and pentobarbitone anaesthetized rats. In pithed rats, the non-selective 5-HT receptor antagonist methiothepin (0.1 mg kg(-1)) and the alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonists methoxyidazoxan and yohimbine (1 mg kg(-1)) showed significant alpha1-adrenoceptor antagonist potency, but methiothepin did not show alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist potency. MDMA (1 and 5 mg kg(-1)) produced pressor responses which were significantly reduced by the alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin (0.1 mg kg(-1)), yohimbine (1 mg kg(-1)) or methiothepin (0.1 mg kg(-1)), but not by the 5-HT2 receptor antagonist ritanserin (1 mg kg(-1)). In anaesthetized rats, antagonists revealed two phases with three components to the effects of MDMA (5 mg kg(-1)) on DBP: an initial pressor response, a later pressor component at 1 min, the sustained depressor response. Methoxyidazoxan, methiothepin or the combination ritanserin/prazosin significantly reduced the initial pressor response, although neither of the latter compounds alone had any effect. The pressor response to MDMA (5 mg kg(-1)) at 1 min was converted to a depressor response by prazosin and to a lesser extent methiothepin and methoxyidazoxan. The depressor response to MDMA (5 mg kg(-1)) was significantly reduced by methoxyidazoxan (0.1 mg kg(-1)), and by the noradrenaline re-uptake blocker cocaine 10 mg kg(-1) but not 1 mg kg(-1). However, the most marked reduction in the depressor response was produced by the combination of methoxyidazoxan and cocaine. It is concluded that the initial pressor response to MDMA (5 mg kg(-1)) in anaesthetized rats involves alpha2- and possibly alpha1-adrenoceptors and 5-HT2 receptors, the pressor component at 1 min is largely alpha1-adrenoceptor mediated, and the sustained depressor response involves alpha2-adrenoceptors.

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