Mdma causes brain damage

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National Institute on Drug Abuse website.

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November 1, Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the study found that MDMA harms neurons that release serotonin, a brain chemical thought to play an important role in regulating memory and other functions. In a related study, researchers found that heavy MDMA users have memory problems that persist for at least 2 weeks after they have stopped using the drug. Both studies suggest that the extent of damage is directly correlated with the amount of MDMA use.

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That message is particularly ificant for young people who participate in large, all-night dance parties known as "raves," which are popular in many cities around the Nation. NIDA's epidemiologic studies indicate that MDMA 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine use has escalated in recent years among college students and young adults who attend these social gatherings.

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Brain images also were taken of 15 people who had never used MDMA. Both groups were similar in age and level of education Mdma causes brain damage had comparable s of men and women. In people who had used MDMA, the PET images showed ificant reductions in the of serotonin transporters, the sites on neuron surfaces that reabsorb serotonin from the space between cells after it has completed its work.

The lasting reduction of serotonin transporters occurred throughout the brain, and people who had used MDMA more often lost more serotonin transporters than those who had used the drug less. PET studies with baboons also produced images indicating MDMA had induced long-term reductions in the of serotonin transporters. Examinations of brain tissue from the animals provided further confirmation that the decrease in serotonin transporters seen in the PET images corresponded to actual loss of serotonin nerve endings containing transporters in the baboons' brains.

Ricaurte is the principal investigator for both studies, which are part of a clinical research project that is assessing the long-term effects of MDMA.

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To help answer that question, a team of researchers, which included scientists from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Mental Health who had worked on the imaging study, attempted to assess the effects of chronic MDMA use on memory. In this study, researchers administered several standardized memory tests to 24 MDMA users who had not used the drug for at least 2 weeks and 24 people who had never used the drug.

Both groups were matched Mdma causes brain damage age, gender, education, and vocabulary scores. The study found that, compared to the nonusers, heavy MDMA users had ificant impairments in visual and verbal memory. Recent studies conducted in the United Kingdom also have reported memory problems in MDMA users assessed within a few days of their last drug use.

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Karen Bolla of Johns Hopkins, who helped conduct the study. These measurements showed that MDMA users had lower levels of the metabolite than people who had not used the drug; that the more MDMA they reported using, the lower the level of the metabolite; and that the people with the lowest levels of the metabolite had the poorest memory performance. Taken together, these findings support the conclusion that MDMA-induced brain serotonin neurotoxicity may for the persistent memory impairment found in MDMA users, Dr. Bolla says. Research on the functional consequences of MDMA-induced damage of serotonin-producing neurons in humans is at an early stage, and the scientists Mdma causes brain damage conducted the studies cannot say definitively that the harm to brain serotonin neurons shown in the imaging study s for the memory impairments found among chronic users of the drug.

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However, "that's the concern, and it's certainly the most obvious basis for the memory problems that some MDMA users have developed," Dr. Ricaurte says. Researchers are continuing to examine the effects of chronic MDMA use on memory and other functions in which serotonin has been implicated, such as mood, impulse control, and sleep cycles.

How long MDMA-induced brain damage persists and the long-term consequences of that damage are other questions researchers Mdma causes brain damage trying to answer. Animal studies, which first documented the neurotoxic effects of the drug, suggest that the loss of serotonin neurons in humans may last for many years and possibly be permanent. PDF documents require the free Adobe Reader. Search form. Archive Home. This is Archived content.

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Cite this article. November 01,

Mdma causes brain damage

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