Brain serotonin transporter binding in former users of MDMA ('ecstasy')

  • Selvaraj S
  • Hoshi R
  • Bhagwagar Z
 et al. 
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Background Animal experimental studies have prompted concerns that widespread use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') by young people may pose a major public health problem in terms of persistent serotonin neurotoxicity Aims To determine the status of brain serotonin neurons in a group of abstinent MDMA users Method We assessed the integrity of brain serotonin neurons by measuring serotonin transporter (SERT) binding using positron emission tomography (PET) and [ 11 QDASB in 12 former MDMA users, 9 polydrug users who had never taken MDMA and 19 controls who reported no history of illicit drug use Results There was no significant difference in the binding potential of [ 11 C]DASB between the groups in any of the brain regions examined Conclusions To the extent that [ 11 C]DASB binding provides an index of the integrity of serotonin neurons, our findings suggest that MDMA use may not result in long-term damage to serotonin neurons when used recreationally in humans.

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  • S. Selvaraj

  • R. Hoshi

  • Z. Bhagwagar

  • N.V. Murthy

  • R. Hinz

  • P. Cowen

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