3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) produces edema due to BBB disruption induced by MMP-9 activation in rat hippocampus
The recreational drug of abuse, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) disrupts blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity in rats through an early P2X7 receptor-mediated event which induces MMP-9 activity. Increased BBB permeability often causes plasma proteins and water to access cerebral tissue leading to vasogenic edema formation. The current study was performed to examine the effect of a single neurotoxic dose of MDMA (12.5 mg/kg, i.p.) on in vivo edema development associated with changes in the expression of the perivascular astrocytic water channel, AQP4, as well as in the expression of the tight-junction (TJ) protein, claudin-5 and Evans Blue dye extravasation in the hippocampus of adult male Dark Agouti rats. We also evaluated the ability of the MMP-9 inhibitor, SB-3CT (25 mg/kg, i.p.), to prevent these changes in order to validate the involvement of MMP-9 activation in MDMA-induced BBB disruption. The results show that MDMA produces edema of short duration temporally associated with changes in AQP4 expression and a reduction in claudin-5 expression, changes which are prevented by SB-3CT. In addition, MDMA induces a short-term increase in both tPA activity and expression, a serine-protease which is involved in BBB disruption and upregulation of MMP-9 expression. In conclusion, this study provides evidence enough to conclude that MDMA induces edema of short duration due to BBB disruption mediated by MMP-9 activation.