, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 40–47 | Cite as

A role for the mesolimbic dopamine system in the psychostimulant actions of MDMA

  • Lisa H. Gold
  • Carol B. Hubner
  • George F. Koob
Original Investigations


Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a phenylethylamine with a chemical structure that resembles both the amphetamines and mescaline and has both stimulant and perception altering properties. The stimulant properties of MDMA were assessed in photocell cages designed to measure locomotor activity in rats. MDMA, over a range of doses (2.5–10.0 mg/kg, SC) produced locomotor hyperactivity which lasted up to 4 h. Further studies examined the role of the mesolimbic dopamine system in the hyperactivity induced by MDMA. 6-Hydroxydopamine lesions of the Nucleus accumbens attenuated the locomotor response produced by MDMA. The well characterized attenuation of the locomotor response produced by amphetamine was also demonstrated in the same rats. The present study demonstrates similarities in the stimulant properties of MDMA and amphetamine, and also suggests that as with amphetamine, the locomotor activation associated with MDMA may involve the presynaptic release of dopamine in the region of the Nucleus accumbens. However, MDMA may have a more unusual pharmacological profile because of its longer duration of action, neurotoxic potential, and differences in the qualitative aspects of its psychoactive effects.

Key words

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine MDMA Nucleus accumbens Locomotor activity Mesolimbic dopamine 6-Hydroxydopamine 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa H. Gold
    • 1
  • Carol B. Hubner
    • 1
  • George F. Koob
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Basic and Clinical ResearchResearch Institute of Scripps ClinicLa JollaUSA

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