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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1991 Jan-Feb;13(1):13-20.

Behavioral and neurochemical effects of prenatal methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) exposure in rats.

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Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211.


MDMA is a hallucinogenic drug that is used by the general public as a recreational drug of abuse. The neurobehavioral consequences of prenatal MDMA exposure are unknown. Groups of pregnant rats were gavaged with 0, 2.5, or 10 mg/kg MDMA during gestation on alternate gestational days 6-18. Gestational duration, litter size, neonatal birth weights and physical appearance at birth were unaffected by MDMA treatments. Pregnancy weight gain was significantly reduced by MDMA treatment. Progeny growth, maturational parameters (eye opening and incisor eruption times), surface righting reflex, swimming performance, forelimb grip strength, milk-induced behaviors, passive avoidance behavior, figure-8 maze activity over 48 hours, the density of brain serotonin (5-HT) uptake sites, and brain 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels were unaffected by MDMA treatments. Olfactory discrimination on postnatal days (PND) 9-11 was enhanced in both male and female MDMA-treated progeny, while negative geotaxis (PND 7-10) was delayed in female pups. In contrast to progeny, MDMA caused dose-dependent decreases in 5-HT and 5-HIAA levels in discrete brain areas of the dam. It is concluded that prenatal exposure to MDMA at the levels used here produces only subtle behavioral alterations in developing rats. The dam is more at risk for MDMA-induced 5-HT depletion than is the conceptus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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