Elucidating the neurotoxic effects of MDMA and its analogs

Senthilkumar S. Karuppagounder, Dwipayan Bhattacharya, Manuj Ahuja, Vishnu Suppiramaniam, Jack Deruiter, Randall Clark, Muralikrishnan Dhanasekaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Aims There is a rapid increase in the use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and its structural congeners/analogs globally. MDMA and MDMA-analogs have been synthesized illegally in furtive dwellings and are abused due to its addictive potential. Furthermore, MDMA and MDMA-analogs have shown to have induced several adverse effects. Hence, understanding the mechanisms mediating this neurotoxic insult of MDMA-analogs is of immense importance for the public health in the world. Main methods We synthesized and investigated the neurotoxic effects of MDMA and its analogs [4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 2, 6-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDMA), and N-ethyl-3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDEA)]. The stimulatory or the dopaminergic agonist effects of MDMA and MDMA-analogs were elucidated using the established 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned animal model. Additionally, we also investigated the neurotoxic mechanisms of MDMA and MDMA-analogs on mitochondrial complex-I activity and reactive oxygen species generation. Key findings MDMA and MDMA-analogs exhibited stimulatory activity as compared to amphetamines and also induced several behavioral changes in the rodents. MDMA and MDMA-analogs enhanced the reactive oxygen generation and inhibited mitochondrial complex-I activity which can lead to neurodegeneration. Hence the mechanism of neurotoxicity, MDMA and MDMA-analogs can enhance the release of monoamines, alter the monoaminergic neurotransmission, and augment oxidative stress and mitochondrial abnormalities leading to neurotoxicity. Significance Thus, our study will help in developing effective pharmacological and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of MDMA and MDMA-analog abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 17 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Drugs of abuse
  • MDMA & analogs
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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