Abstract MDMA is a widely abused psychostimulant which causes a rapid and robust release of the monoaminergic neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Recently, it was shown that MDMA increases extracellular glutamate concentrations in the dorsal hippocampus, which is dependent on serotonin release and 5HT2A/2C receptor activation. The increased extracellular glutamate concentration coincides with a loss of parvalbumin-immunoreactive (PV-IR) interneurons of the dentate gyrus region. Given the known susceptibility of PV interneurons to excitotoxicity, we examined whether MDMA-induced increases in extracellular glutamate in the dentate gyrus are necessary for the loss of PV cells in rats. Extracellular glutamate concentrations increased in the dentate gyrus during systemic and local administration of MDMA. Administration of the NMDA receptor antagonist, MK-801, during systemic injections of MDMA, prevented the loss of PV-IR interneurons seen 10 days after MDMA exposure. Local administration of MDL100907, a selective 5HT2A receptor antagonist, prevented the increases in glutamate caused by reverse dialysis of MDMA directly into the dentate gyrus and prevented the reduction of PV-IR. These findings provide evidence that MDMA causes decreases in PV within the dentate gyrus through a 5HT2A receptor-mediated increase in glutamate and subsequent NMDA receptor activation.
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