3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as a unique model of serotonin receptor function and serotonin-dopamine interactions

Michael G. Bankson, Kathryn A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


(+)-3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; "ecstasy"; "X"; "E") is a popular recreational amphetamine analog that produces a unique set of effects in humans and animals. MDMA use is often associated with dance parties called "raves", but its use has increased in all segments of society and around the world. Like amphetamine, MDMA elicits hyperactivity when administered to rodents. Unlike amphetamine, which has effects mediated by the release of dopamine (DA) from nerve terminals, MDMA-induced hyperactivity is thought to be dependent upon the release of 5-hydroxtryptamine (5-HT). However, MDMA elicits large increases in synaptic concentrations of both DA and 5-HT, and the interaction between these neurotransmitters may account for the unique characteristics of the drug. Comparisons between MDMA, the selective DA releaser amphetamine, and the selective 5-HT releaser fenfluramine are used in the present discussion to highlight the ability of MDMA to model the locomotor activation induced by the interaction of DA and 5-HT. Furthermore, this review summarizes evidence to suggest that the influence of 5-HT receptors on behavioral function is dependent upon the specific neurochemical environment evoked by a given drug, specifically discussed here with regard to the interaction between 5-HT and DA systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-852
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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