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Pharmacology. 2003 Dec;69(4):180-2.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') serves as a robust positive reinforcer in a rat runway procedure.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Although 'ecstasy' (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA) is, after marijuana, the second most prevalent illegal drug of abuse in European adolescents, animal experimental evidence of MDMA's reinforcing effect has remained scarce, particularly in the rodent model, raising questions about the robustness of MDMA's reinforcing effect under controlled laboratory conditions. In the present rat runway study, Sprague-Dawley and Long-Evans rats were given the opportunity to run for intravenous injections of saline or MDMA (1 mg/kg). MDMA significantly decreased runtimes in both rat strains. Thus, MDMA's positive reinforcing effect can be demonstrated not only across rat strains but also across operant conditioning paradigms. These findings should reassure the drug abuse research community that the investigation of MDMA's reinforcing effect in the inexpensive and widely used rodent model is indeed feasible.

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