3,4-Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a unique psychostimulant that continues to be a popular drug of abuse. It has been well documented that MDMA reduces markers of 5-HT axon terminals in rodents, as well as humans. A loss of parvalbumin-immunoreactive (IR) interneurons in the hippocampus following MDMA treatment has only been documented recently. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that MDMA reduces glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 67-IR, another biochemical marker of GABA neurons, in the hippocampus and that this reduction in GAD67-IR neurons and an accompanying increase in seizure susceptibility involve glutamate receptor activation. Repeated exposure to MDMA (3 × 10 mg/kg, ip) resulted in a reduction of 37–58% of GAD67-IR cells in the dentate gyrus (DG), CA1, and CA3 regions, as well as an increased susceptibility to kainic acid-induced seizures, both of which persisted for at least 30 days following MDMA treatment. Administration of the NMDA antagonist MK-801 or the glutamate transporter type 1 (GLT-1) inducer ceftriaxone prevented both the MDMA-induced loss of GAD67-IR neurons and the increased vulnerability to kainic acid-induced seizures. The MDMA-induced increase in the extracellular concentration of glutamate in the hippocampus was significantly diminished in rats treated with ceftriaxone, thereby implicating a glutamatergic mechanism in the neuroprotective effects of ceftriaxone. In summary, the present findings support a role for increased extracellular glutamate and NMDA receptor activation in the MDMA-induced loss of hippocampal GAD67-IR neurons and the subsequent increased susceptibility to evoked seizures.
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