3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or “ecstasy”) is a recreational drug used worldwide for its distinctive psychotropic effects. Although important cardiovascular effects, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, have also been described, the vascular effects of MDMA and metabolites and their correlation with hyperthermia (major side effect of MDMA) are not yet fully understood and have not been previously reported. This study aimed at evaluating the effects of MDMA and its main catechol metabolites, alpha-methyldopamine (α-MeDA), N-methyl-alpha-methyldopamine (N-Me-α-MeDA), 5-(glutathion-S-yl)-alpha-methyldopamine [5-(GSH)-α-MeDA] and 5-(glutathion-S-yl)-N-methyl-alpha-methyldopamine [5-(GSH)-N-Me-α-MeDA], on the 5-HT-dependent vasoactivity in normothermia (37 °C) and hyperthermia (40 °C) of the human internal mammary artery (IMA) in vitro. The results showed the ability of MDMA, α-MeDA and N-Me-α-MeDA to exert vasoconstriction of the IMA which was considerably higher in hyperthermic conditions (about fourfold for MDMA and α-MeDA and twofold for N-Me-α-MeDA). The results also showed that all the compounds may influence the 5-HT-mediated concentration-dependent response of IMA, as MDMA, α-MeDA and N-Me-α-MeDA behaved as partial agonists and 5-(GSH)-α-MeDA and 5-(GSH)-N-Me-α-MeDA as antagonists. In conclusion, MDMA abuse may imply a higher cardiovascular risk associated both to MDMA and its metabolites that might be relevant in patients with underlying cardiovascular diseases, particularly in hyperthermia.
- Catecholic metabolites of MDMA
- Human internal mammary artery
- Vascular effects