Sustained effects of ecstasy on the human brain: a prospective neuroimaging study in novel users

Brain : a Journal of Neurology
Maartje M L de WinWim van den Brink

Abstract

Previous studies have suggested toxic effects of recreational ecstasy use on the serotonin system of the brain. However, it cannot be excluded that observed differences between users and non-users are the cause rather than the consequence of ecstasy use. As part of the Netherlands XTC Toxicity (NeXT) study, we prospectively assessed sustained effects of ecstasy use on the brain in novel ecstasy users using repeated measurements with a combination of different neuroimaging parameters of neurotoxicity. At baseline, 188 ecstasy-naive volunteers with high probability of first ecstasy use were examined. After a mean period of 17 months follow-up, neuroimaging was repeated in 59 incident ecstasy users and 56 matched persistent ecstasy-naives and their outcomes were compared. Neuroimaging included [(123)I]beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-iodophenyl)tropane (CIT) SPECT to measure serotonin transporter densities as indicators of serotonergic function; (1)H-MR spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) to measure brain metabolites as indicators of neuronal damage; diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to measure the apparent diffusion coefficient and fractional anisotropy (FA) of the diffusional motion of water molecules in the brain as indicators of axonal integrity; ...Continue Reading

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