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J Comp Neurol. 2006 Jul 10;497(2):251-69.

Damage of serotonergic axons and immunolocalization of Hsp27, Hsp72, and Hsp90 molecular chaperones after a single dose of MDMA administration in Dark Agouti rat: temporal, spatial, and cellular patterns.

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Laboratory of Neurochemistry and Experimental Medicine, National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Budapest, Hungary.


3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") causes long-term disturbance of the serotonergic system. We examined the temporal, spatial, and cellular distribution of three molecular chaperones, Hsp27, Hsp72, and Hsp90, 3 and 7 days after treatment with 7.5, 15, and 30 mg/kg single intraperitoneal (i.p.) doses of MDMA in Dark Agouti rat brains. Furthermore, we compared the immunostaining patterns of molecular chaperones with serotonergic axonal-vulnerability evaluated by tryptophan-hydroxylase (TryOH) immunoreactivity and with astroglial-activation detected by GFAP-immunostaining. There was a marked reduction in TryOH-immunoreactive axon density after MDMA treatment in all examined areas at both time points. Three days after treatment, a significant dose-dependent increase in Hsp27-immunoreactive protoplasmic astrocytes was found in the cingulate, frontal, occipital, and pyriform cortex, and in the hippocampus CA1. However, there was no increase in astroglial Hsp27-immunoreactivity in the caudate putamen, lateral septal nucleus, or anterior hypothalamus. A significant increase in the GFAP immunostaining density of protoplasmic astrocytes was found only in the hippocampus CA1. In addition, numerous strong Hsp72-immunopositive neurons were found in some brain areas only 3 days after treatment with 30 mg/kg MDMA. Increased Hsp27-immunoreactivity exclusively in the examined cortical areas reveals that Hsp27 is a sensitive marker of astroglial response to the effects of MDMA in these regions of Dark Agouti rat brain and suggests differential responses in astroglial Hsp27-expression between distinct brain areas. The co-occurrence of Hsp27 and GFAP response exclusively in the hippocampus CA1 may suggest the particular vulnerability of this region. The presence of strong Hsp72-immunopositive neurons in certain brain areas may reflect additional effects of MDMA on nonserotonergic neurons.

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