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Neurotoxic effects of ecstasy on the thalamus

  • Maartje M. L. de Win (a1), Gerry Jager (a2), Jan Booij (a3), Liesbeth Reneman (a4), Thelma Schilt (a5), Cristina Lavini (a4), Sílvia D. Olabarriaga (a6), Nick F. Ramsey (a7), Gerard J. den Heeten (a4) and Wim van den Brink (a8)...
Abstract
Background

Neurotoxic effects of ecstasy have been reported, although it remains unclear whether effects can be attributed to ecstasy, other recreational drugs or a combination of these.

Aims

To assess specific/independent neurotoxic effects of heavy ecstasy use and contributions of amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis as part of The Netherlands XTC Toxicity (NeXT) study.

Method

Effects of ecstasy and other substances were assessed with 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging, perfusion weighted imaging and [123I]2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)-tropane ([123I]β-CIT) single photon emission computed tomography (serotonin transporters) in a sample (n=71) with broad variation in drug use, using multiple regression analyses.

Results

Ecstasy showed specific effects in the thalamus with decreased [123I]β-CIT binding, suggesting serotonergic axonal damage; decreased fractional anisotropy, suggesting axonal loss; and increased cerebral blood volume probably caused by serotonin depletion. Ecstasy had no effect on brain metabolites and apparent diffusion coefficients.

Conclusions

Converging evidence was found for a specific toxic effect of ecstasy on serotonergic axons in the thalamus.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Maartje M.L. de Win, Department of Radiology, G1-229, University of Amsterdam, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: m.m.dewin@amc.uva.nl
References
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Neurotoxic effects of ecstasy on the thalamus

  • Maartje M. L. de Win (a1), Gerry Jager (a2), Jan Booij (a3), Liesbeth Reneman (a4), Thelma Schilt (a5), Cristina Lavini (a4), Sílvia D. Olabarriaga (a6), Nick F. Ramsey (a7), Gerard J. den Heeten (a4) and Wim van den Brink (a8)...
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