Acutely applied MDMA enhances long-term potentiation in rat hippocampus involving D1/D5 and 5-HT2 receptors through a polysynaptic mechanism
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3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) is a drug of abuse that induces learning and memory deficit. However, there are no experimental data that correlate the behavioral evidence with models of synaptic plasticity such as long-term potentiation (LTP) or long-term depression (LTD). Using field potential recordings in rat hippocampal slices of young rats, we found that acute application of MDMA enhances LTP in CA3-CA1 synapses without affecting LTD. Using specific antagonists and paired-pulse facilitation protocols we observed that the MDMA-dependent increase of LTP involves presynaptic 5-HT2 serotonin receptors and postsynaptic D1/D5 dopamine receptors. In addition, the inhibition of PKA suppresses the MDMA-dependent increase in LTP, suggesting that dopamine receptor agonism activates cAMP-dependent intracellular pathways. We propose that MDMA exerts its LTP-altering effect involving a polysynaptic interaction between serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in hippocampal synapses. Our results are compatible with the view that the alterations in hippocampal LTP could be responsible for MDMA-dependent cognitive deficits observed in humans and animals. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP.
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