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J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Nov 24;8:165. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-8-165.

Increased interleukin-1β levels following low dose MDMA induces tolerance against the 5-HT neurotoxicity produced by challenge MDMA.

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Departamento de Farmacologia, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.



Preconditioning is a phenomenon by which tolerance develops to injury by previous exposure to a stressor of mild severity. Previous studies have shown that single or repeated low dose MDMA can attenuate 5-HT transporter loss produced by a subsequent neurotoxic dose of the drug. We have explored the mechanism of delayed preconditioning by low dose MDMA.


Male Dark Agouti rats were given low dose MDMA (3 mg/kg, i.p.) 96 h before receiving neurotoxic MDMA (12.5 mg/kg, i.p.). IL-1β and IL1ra levels and 5-HT transporter density in frontal cortex were quantified at 1 h, 3 h or 7 days. IL-1β, IL-1ra and IL-1RI were determined between 3 h and 96 h after low dose MDMA. sIL-1RI combined with low dose MDMA or IL-1β were given 96 h before neurotoxic MDMA and toxicity assessed 7 days later.


Pretreatment with low dose MDMA attenuated both the 5-HT transporter loss and elevated IL-1β levels induced by neurotoxic MDMA while producing an increase in IL-1ra levels. Low dose MDMA produced an increase in IL-1β at 3 h and in IL-1ra at 96 h. sIL-1RI expression was also increased after low dose MDMA. Coadministration of sIL-1RI (3 μg, i.c.v.) prevented the protection against neurotoxic MDMA provided by low dose MDMA. Furthermore, IL-1β (2.5 pg, intracortical) given 96 h before neurotoxic MDMA protected against the 5-HT neurotoxicity produced by the drug, thus mimicking preconditioning.


These results suggest that IL-1β plays an important role in the development of delayed preconditioning by low dose MDMA.

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