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Keywords:

  • MDMA;
  • neurotoxicity;
  • PET;
  • SPECT;
  • MRI;
  • review

Abstract

Human users of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ‘Ecstasy’) users may be at risk of developing MDMA-induced neuronal injury. Previously, no methods were available for directly evaluating the neurotoxic effects of MDMA in the living human brain. However, development of in vivo neuroimaging tools has begun to provide insights into the effects of MDMA in the human brain. In this review, contributions of brain imaging studies on the potential neurotoxic effects of MDMA and functional consequences are highlighted. An overview is given of PET, SPECT and MR spectroscopy studies, most of which show evidence of neuronal injury in MDMA users. Different neuroimaging tools are discussed that have investigated potential functional consequences of MDMA-induced 5-HT neurotoxic lesions. Finally, the contribution of brain imaging in future studies is discussed, emphasising the crucial role it will play in our understanding of MDMA's short- and long-term effects in the human brain. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.