Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Ecstasy' Linked To Survival Of Key Movement-related Cells In Brain

Date:
October 19, 2006
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
New research from the University of Cincinnati suggests that the widely abused club drug "ecstasy," or MDMA, can increase the survival of dopamine cells in the brain during fetal development. Because these cells are critical in the regulation of voluntary movement, the findings, the researchers say, may lead to better therapies for neurological diseases like Parkinson's.

Jack Lipton, PhD, and expert in developmental neuroscience, studies the long-term effects of abused drugs on the developing central nervous system.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Cincinnati

New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) suggests that the widely abused club drug "ecstasy," or MDMA, can increase the survival of dopamine cells in the brain during fetal development.

Because these cells are critical in the regulation of voluntary movement, the findings, the researchers say, may lead to better therapies for neurological diseases like Parkinson's.

Led by Jack Lipton, PhD, professor of psychiatry, the study was presented today as an abstract at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Atlanta.

"We're certainly not suggesting that this drug be used to treat diseases," said Lipton. "But finding new methods to enhance the survival of dopamine neurons is critical in developing new drugs for diseases such as Parkinson's.

"While MDMA itself isn't likely to be an appropriate therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, it may provide insights for developing new drugs that have similar properties.

"It's exciting to learn that an abused drug may have potential use for developing new therapeutics," he added. "It really makes you rethink your own preconceptions."

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been found to regulate movement, balance, emotion and motivation, and it also affects pleasurable feelings in the brain. Researchers know that a loss of dopamine cells in the brain leads to the development of Parkinson's disease and possibly other movement disorders. Preventing dopamine cells from dying or aiding in the replacement of those cells is key to finding lasting therapies.

Lipton, director of the developmental neuroscience division in UC's psychiatry department, studies the long-term effects of abused drugs on the developing central nervous system. He noticed, during previous laboratory studies in rats, that prenatal exposure to MDMA increased growth of dopamine cells in the brain. His team then decided to study exposure to MDMA in cultured embryonic cells--where they confirmed that this drug was in fact increasing dopamine cell survival.

The findings, Lipton says, aren't consistent with what is known about adult brains, where MDMA has been shown to cause depletion of neurotransmitters--like dopamine--and has been linked to decreased brain activity.

MDMA, chemically known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine and sold and used illegally as "ecstasy," is a synthetic stimulant that prompts the secretion of large amounts of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This secretion can lead to prolonged periods of activity, hallucinations and euphoria. Before the United States banned it in 1985, MDMA was tested as a possible adjunct in psychotherapy. In 2001, the FDA agreed to allow MDMA to be tested as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Coauthors include Nicholas Campbell, Timothy Collier, PhD, Katrina Paumier, Caryl Sortwell, PhD, and Emeline Tolod.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "'Ecstasy' Linked To Survival Of Key Movement-related Cells In Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018150856.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2006, October 19). 'Ecstasy' Linked To Survival Of Key Movement-related Cells In Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018150856.htm
University of Cincinnati. "'Ecstasy' Linked To Survival Of Key Movement-related Cells In Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061018150856.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins