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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Sep;99(3):295-300. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 May 13.

Influences of activity wheel access on the body temperature response to MDMA and methamphetamine.

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Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Recreational ingestion of the drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy") can result in pathologically elevated body temperature and even death in humans. Such incidents are relatively rare which makes it difficult to identify the relative contributions of specific environmental and situational factors. Although animal models have been used to explore several aspects of MDMA-induced hyperthermia and it is regularly hypothesized that prolonged physical activity (e.g., dancing) in the nightclub environment increases risk, this has never been tested directly. In this study the rectal temperature of male Wistar rats was monitored after challenge with doses of MDMA and methamphetamine (MA), another drug frequently ingested in the rave/nightclub environment, either with or without access to an activity wheel. Results showed that wheel activity did not modify the hyperthermia produced by 10.0mg/kg MDMA. However, individual correlations were observed in which wheel activity levels after a locomotor stimulant dose of MDMA were positively related to body temperature change and lethal outcome. A modest increase in the maximum body temperature observed after 5.6mg/kg MA was caused by wheel access but this was mostly attributable to a drop in temperature relative to vehicle treatment in the absence of wheel activity. These results suggest that nightclub dancing in the human Ecstasy consumer may not be a significant factor in medical emergencies.

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