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Author Notes:

Leonard L. Howell, Address: Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, Ph.: (404) 727-7786, Fax: (404) 727-1266, leonard@rmy.emory.edu.

The authors would like to thank Jodi Godfrey, Juliet Brown, and Lisa Neidert for their expert technical assistance on this project.

Furthermore, we would like to thank the Yerkes National Primate Research Center’s Biomarkers Core Laboratory for the care and speed with which they carried out the prolactin assays.

Finally, we would like to thank the animal care staff at the Yerkes center for their fine animal husbandry services.

None of the authors of this manuscript have any conflicts of interest related to its content.


Research Funding:

These studies were funded by the National Institutes of Health [DA000517 and DA010344 (LLH)]; and by the Yerkes Base Grant [RR00165 (KSM; HLK; LLH)].

A portion of this work was supported by the Intramural Research Programs of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fluorobenzenes
  • Fluoxetine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Microdialysis
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Piperidines
  • Prolactin
  • Serotonin Agents
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Time Factors

The neuropharmacology of prolactin secretion elicited by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("ecstasy"): A concurrent microdialysis and plasma analysis study


Journal Title:

Hormones and Behavior


Volume 61, Number 2


, Pages 181-190

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a substituted phenethylamine that is widely abused as the street drug "ecstasy". Racemic MDMA (S,R(+/-)-MDMA) and its stereoisomers elicit complex spectrums of psychobiological, neurochemical, and hormonal effects. In this regard, recent findings demonstrated that S,R(+/-)-MDMA and its stereoisomer R(-)-MDMA elicit increases in striatal extracellular serotonin levels and plasma levels of the hormone prolactin in rhesus monkeys. In the present mechanistic study, we evaluated the role of the serotonin transporter and the 5-HT 2A receptor in S,R(+/-)-MDMA- and R(-)-MDMA-elicited prolactin secretion in rhesus monkeys through concurrent microdialysis and plasma analysis determinations and drug interaction experiments. Concurrent neurochemical and hormone determinations showed a strong positive temporal correlation between serotonin release and prolactin secretion. Consistent with their distinct mechanisms of action and previous studies showing that the serotonin transporter inhibitor fluoxetine attenuates the behavioral and neurochemical effects of S,R(+/-)-MDMA, pretreatment with fluoxetine attenuated serotonin release elicited by either S,R(+/-)-MDMA or R(-)-MDMA. As hypothesized, at a dose that had no significant effects on circulating prolactin levels when administered alone, fluoxetine also attenuated prolactin secretion elicited by S,R(+/-)-MDMA. In contrast, combined pretreatment with both fluoxetine and the selective 5-HT 2A receptor antagonist M100907 was required to attenuate prolactin secretion elicited by R(-)-MDMA, suggesting that this stereoisomer of S,R(+/-)-MDMA elicits prolactin secretion through both serotonin release and direct agonism of 5-HT 2A receptors. Accordingly, these findings inform our understanding of the neuropharmacology of both S,R(+/-)-MDMA and R(-)-MDMA and the regulation of prolactin secretion.

Copyright information:

© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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