Influence of CYP2D6 polymorphism on 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ('Ecstasy') cytotoxicity

Helena Carmo, Marc Brulport, Matthias Hermes, Franz Oesch, Renata Silva, Luísa M. Ferreira, Paula S. Branco, Douwe De Boer, Fernando Remião, Félix Dias Carvalho, Michael R. Schön, Niels Krebsfaenger, Johannes Doehmer, Maria De Lourdes Bastos, Jan G. Hengstler

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46 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Remarkable interindividual differences in 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine ('Ecstasy')-mediated toxicity have been reported in humans. Therefore, we tested whether CYP2D6 or its variant alleles as well as CYP3A4 influence the susceptibility to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. METHODS: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine cytotoxicity was determined in V79 cells expressing human wild-type CYP2D6 (CYP2D6*1), the low-activity alleles CYP2D6*2, *9, *10, and *17, as well as human CYP3A4. Metabolites of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine formed by the different cell lines were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography/ electrochemical detector. RESULTS: Toxicity of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine was clearly increased in cells expressing CYP2D6*1 compared with the parental cells devoid of CYP-dependent enzymatic activity. Toxicity in V79 CYP2D6*1 cells was also higher than in V79 cell lines expressing the low-activity alleles CYP2D6*2, *9, *10, or *17. In contrast to CYP2D6, the CYP3A4 isoenzyme did not enhance 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine toxicity. Formation of the oxidative 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine metabolite N-methyl-α-methyldopamine was greatly enhanced in V79 cell line transfected with CYP2D6*1 compared to all other cell lines. The increase in the cytotoxic effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine observed in this cell line was therefore suspected to be a consequence of the production of this metabolite. This was further investigated by testing the cytotoxicity of N-methyl-α- methyldopamine to the control cell line. The results confirmed our hypothesis as the metabolite proved to be more than 100-fold more toxic than the parent compound 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. CONCLUSIONS: CYP2D6*1 mediates 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine toxicity via formation of N-methyl-α-methyldopamine. Therefore, it will be important to investigate whether CYP2D6 ultrarapid metabolizers are overrepresented in the cases of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine intoxications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-799
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacogenetics And Genomics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine
  • CYP2D6
  • Ecstasy toxicity
  • Metabolism
  • Polymorphism


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