Send to

Choose Destination
Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2014 Apr 1;2(2):e00031.

Inhibition of the dorsomedial hypothalamus, but not the medullary raphe pallidus, decreases hyperthermia and mortality from MDMA given in a warm environment.

Author information

Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA ; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


The central mechanisms through which MDMA mediates life-threatening hyperthermia when taken in a warm environment are not well described. It is assumed that MDMA alters normal thermoregulatory circuits resulting in increased heat production through interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) and decreased heat dissipation through cutaneous vasoconstriction. We studied the role of the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) and medullary raphe pallidus (mRPa) in mediating iBAT, tail blood flow, and locomotor effects produced by MDMA. Rats were instrumented with guide cannulas targeting either the DMH or the mRPa-brain regions involved in regulating iBAT and cutaneous vascular beds. In all animals, core temperature and locomotion were recorded with surgically implanted telemetric transmitters; and additionally either iBAT temperature (via telemetric transmitter) or tail artery blood flow (via tail artery Doppler cuff) were also recorded. Animals were placed in an environmental chamber at 32°C and microinjected with either control or the GABA agonist muscimol (80pmol) followed by an intravenous injection of saline or MDMA (7.5 mg kg-1). To prevent undue suffering, a core temperature of 41°C was chosen as the surrogate marker of mortality. Inhibition of the DMH, but not the mRPa, prevented mortality and attenuated hyperthermia and locomotion. Inhibition of either the DMH or the mRPa did not affect iBAT temperature increases or tail blood flow decreases. While MDMA increases iBAT thermogenesis and decreases heat dissipation through cutaneous vasoconstriction, thermoregulatory brain regions known to mediate these effects are not involved. Rather, the finding that inhibiting the DMH decreases both locomotion and body temperature suggests that locomotion may be a key central contributor to MDMA-evoked hyperthermia.


MDMA; ambient temperature; cutaneous blood flow; dorsomedial hypothalamus; hyperthermia; interscapular brown adipose tissue; locomotion; medullary raphe pallidus; thermoregulation

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center