Long-term behavioral consequences of prenatal MDMA exposure
Review articleOpen access
Abstract:

AbstractThe current study sought to determine whether prenatal 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA) exposure from E14–20 in the rat resulted in behavioral sequelae in adult offspring. Prenatal MDMA exposure results in increased dopaminergic fiber density in the prefrontal cortex, striatum and nucleus accumbens of young rats. Since these areas are critical in response to novelty, reward, attention and locomotor activity, we hypothesized that prenatal MDMA exposure would produce significant changes in the performance of tasks that examine such behaviors in adult rats. Adult rats prenatally exposed to MDMA exhibited greater activity and spent more time in the center during a novel open field test as compared to controls. This increased activity was not reflected in normal home cage activity. Prenatal exposure to MDMA did not affect feeding or food reward. It did not alter cocaine self-administration behaviors, nor did it have an effect on the locomotor response to amphetamine challenge. Finally, while prenatal MDMA did not affect performance in the radial arm maze or the Morris water maze (MWM), these animals demonstrated altered performance in a cued MWM paradigm. Prenatal MDMA exposure resulted in perseverative attendance to a hanging cue when the platform in the MWM was removed as compared to controls. Together, these data demonstrate that prenatal exposure to MDMA results in a behavioral phenotype in adult rats characterized by reduced anxiety, a heightened response to novelty, and “hyperattentiveness” to environmental cues during spatial learning.

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