Tolerance to the Behavioural and Neurochemical Effects of MDMA Following Repeated Exposure
Rationale: Following repeated +/-3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) administration there is tolerance to many behavioural effects and deficits in serotonergic neurotransmission. Objectives: The present studies had three main objectives. 1. To develop a behavioural assay to examine the effects of acute and repeated MDMA exposure. 2. To use this behavioural assay to determine whether functional changes in serotonin (5-HT)2a or 5-HT2c receptors accompany tolerance to the effects of MDMA. 3. To attempt to reverse behavioural tolerance and 5-HT deficits by administering a treatment that has been shown to desensitise the 5-HT1a autoreceptor. Methods: In separate groups of rats the dose effect curves for MDMAproduced hyperactivity were determined (0.0, 1.0, 3.3, 10.0 mg/kg). In additional groups the effect of MDMA pretreatment (4 X 10mg/kg MDMA injections at 2 hour intervals) or saline vehicle on MDMA-produced hyperactivity was assessed. To determine the experimental parameters for MDMA effects in the Emergence Test (ET) separate groups of rats received MDMA (0.0, 3.3 mg/kg) and were either habituated to a hide box for various periods (15, 30, 45mins) or exposed to the test arena 3 times over a period of days (day 1, 5, 9) or injected daily in the home cage with MDMA (0.0, 3.3mg/kg) for 3 days. Emergence latency following injections of MDMA (0.0, 3.3mg/kg), the 5-HT2a /c agonistm-CPP (0.0, 0.3, 0.6 or 1.25 m/kg), the 5-HT releasing stimulant, fenfluramine (0.0, 1.0, 2.0 mg/kg), and the 5-HT2a agonist DOI (0.0, 1.0, 2.0 mg/kg) was measured. The role of 5-HT2c receptors was assessed by determining the effect of the 5-HT2c antagonist, RS102221 (0.0, 0.25, 0.5, 1.0 mg/kg). The effect of MDMA pretreatment on MDMA (0.0, 3.3 mg/kg), m-CPP (1.25 mg/kg), or fenfluramine (2.0mg/kg) induced increases in emergence latency was also assessed. The functional status of the 5-HT1a autoreceptor following MDMA pretreatment was determined by measuring the effect of the 5-HT1a agonist, 8- OHDPAT (0.0, 0.315, 0.0625, 0.125, 0.25, 0.5 mg/kg, SC), on body temperature. The ability of the 5-HT1a antagonist, WAY100635 (0.0, 0.01, 0.1, 1.0mg/kg, SC, 1 X daily for 7 days or by local injection of 0.0 or 500 ng into the dorsal raphe) to reverse the attenuation of MDMA-induced hyperactivity following MDMA pretreatment was examined. Effects of various treatments on tissue levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA were also measured using HPLC with EC. Results: MDMA produced dose-dependent hyperactivity and tolerance was produced by MDMA pretreatment. MDMA (3.3mg/kg) increased emergence latency following a 30 minute habituation period and this effect was reduced in MDMA-pretreated rats. Fenfluramine and m-CPP but not DOI also increased emergence latency in a dose-dependent manner. RS102221 dose dependently blocked the acute effects of MDMA and m-CPP. Two weeks following MDMA pretreatment rats were tolerant to the effects of MDMA and fenfluramine, but not m-CPP. MDMA pretreatment also produced significant reductions in tissue levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA. Subcutaneous WAY100635 administration failed to reverse the behavioural and neurochemical deficits produced by MDMA pretreatment but local administration increased MDMA-produced hyperactivity in saline and MDMA pretreated rats and reversed MDMA-produced 5-HT tissue depletions. Conclusion: The Emergence Test is a behavioural assay sensitive to the effects of acute and repeated MDMA exposure. Following MDMA pretreatment behavioural tolerance as measured by the ET is likely to be due to impaired 5-HT release rather than changes in 5-HT2a or 5-HT2c receptor responses. Because partial reversal of tolerance and 5-HT deficits following repeated MDMA administration was achieved through local DRN 5-HT1a antagonist administration the 5-HT1a autoreceptor may prove to be a clinical target for the reversal of MDMA produced deficits.