BACKGROUND The main psychotropic agent of the popular illicit drug ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). In the light of animal studies and examinations of human cerebrospinal fluid, MDMA is suspected of causing neurotoxic lesions to the serotonergic system.
AIMS To postulate a relationship between ecstasy use and lasting alterations to the cerebral glucose metabolic rate.
METHOD Positron emission tomography (PET) with 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) was performed on seven ecstasy users and seven subjects without any known history of illicit drug use. Data were compared for a limited number of brain regions.
RESULTS By comparison with the control group, the glucose metabolic uptake of the ecstasy user group was altered within the amygdala, hippocampus and Brodmann's area II.
CONCLUSIONS The results suggest the possibility that ecstasy use has lasting effects on central neuronal activity in humans.