BACKGROUND: Many studies have focused on the implication of the serotonin and dopamine systems in neuroadaptive responses to the recreational drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-metamphetamine (MDMA). Less attention has been given to the major excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate known to be implicated in schizophrenia and drug addiction. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of repeated intermittent MDMA administration upon gene-transcript expression of the glutamate transporters (EAAT1, EAAT2-1, EAAT2-2), the glutamate receptor subunits of AMPA (GluR1, GluR2, GluR3), the glutamate receptor subunits of NMDA (NR1, NR2A and NR2B), as well as metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1, mGluR2, mGluR3, mGluR5) in six different brain regions. Adolescent male Sprague Dawley rats received MDMA at the doses of 3 x 1 and 3 x 5 mg/kg/day, or 3x vehicle 3 hours apart, every 7th day for 4 weeks. The gene-transcript levels were assessed using real-time PCR validated with a range of housekeeping genes. RESULTS: The findings showed pronounced enhancements in gene-transcript expression of GluR2, mGluR1, mGluR5, NR1, NR2A, NR2B, EAAT1, and EAAT2-2 in the cortex at bregma +1.6. In the caudate putamen, mRNA levels of GluR3, NR2A, and NR2B receptor subunits were significantly increased. In contrast, the gene-transcript expression of GluR1 was reduced in the hippocampus. In the hypothalamus, there was a significant increase of GluR1, GluR3, mGluR1, and mGluR3 gene-transcript expressions. CONCLUSION: Repeated intermittent MDMA administration induces neuroadaptive changes in gene-transcript expressions of glutamatergic NMDA and AMPA receptor subunits, metabotropic receptors and transporters in regions of the brain regulating reward-related associative learning, cognition, and memory and neuro-endocrine functions.
2008. Vol. 9, 39- p.