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Mechanisms Underlying the Hepatotoxic Effects of Ecstasy

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3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) is a worldwide illegally used amphetamine-derived designer drug known to be hepatotoxic to humans. Jaundice, hepatomegaly, centrilobular necrosis, hepatitis and fibrosis represent some of the adverse effects caused by MDMA in the liver. Although there is irrefutable evidence of MDMA-induced hepatocellular damage, the mechanisms responsible for that toxicity remain to be thoroughly clarified. One well thought-of mechanism imply MDMA metabolism in the liver into reactive metabolites as responsible for the MDMA-elicited hepatotoxicity. However, other factors, including MDMA-induced hyperthermia, the increase in neurotransmitters efflux, the oxidation of biogenic amines, polydrug abuse pattern, and environmental features accompanying illicit MDMA use, may increase the risk for liver complications. Liver damage patterns of MDMA in animals and humans and current research on the mechanisms underlying the hepatotoxic effects of MDMA will be highlighted in this review.

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Keywords: Ecstasy; MDMA; hepatotoxicity; liver damage; mechanisms

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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  • Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics in both pre-clinical and clinical areas of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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