Brain serotonin transporter binding in former users of MDMA ('ecstasy')

Sudhakar Selvaraj, Rosa Hoshi, Zubin Bhagwagar, Naga Venkatesha Murthy, Rainer Hinz, Philip Cowen, H. Valerie Curran, Paul Grasby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background Animal experimental studies have prompted concerns that widespread use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, 'ecstasy') by young people may pose a major public health problem in terms of persistent serotonin neurotoxicity Aims To determine the status of brain serotonin neurons in a group of abstinent MDMA users Method We assessed the integrity of brain serotonin neurons by measuring serotonin transporter (SERT) binding using positron emission tomography (PET) and [ 11QDASB in 12 former MDMA users, 9 polydrug users who had never taken MDMA and 19 controls who reported no history of illicit drug use Results There was no significant difference in the binding potential of [ 11C]DASB between the groups in any of the brain regions examined Conclusions To the extent that [ 11C]DASB binding provides an index of the integrity of serotonin neurons, our findings suggest that MDMA use may not result in long-term damage to serotonin neurons when used recreationally in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-359
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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