Vollenweider Quednow

Fakultäten » Medizinische Fakultät » Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik » Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Psychosomatik, Klinik für » Prof. Dr. Daniel Hell (emeritiert) » Vollenweider Quednow

Completed research project

Title / Titel Investigation of serotonergic neurotransmission in ecstasy (MDMA) users employing dexfenfluramine and positron emission tomography: a functional probe to assess MDMA neurotoxicity
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung The primary aim of this study is to further clarify the potential neurotoxic effects of long-term MDMA use on serotonergic neurons in the human brain and its consequences upon cognitive functions. This aim is accomplished by investigating the functional integrity of the serotonin (5-HT) system in recreational ecstasy users by means of positron emission tomographic (PET) brain imaging using the radioligand [18F]-altanserin and 5-HT challenge with dexfenfluramine. Specifically, in a placebo-controlled study, the 5-HT release capacity of serotonergic neurons (functional integrity) is investigated by assessing [18F]-altanserin binding to 5-HT2A receptors following dexfenfluramine challenge in former and continuing MDMA users, and age and sex-matched MDMA-naïve controls. A second aim is to detect possible impairments of cognitive functions and to study their relationship to serotonin neurotransmission as indexed by PET. Therefore all subjects are also tested by a series of cognitive tasks before and following 5-HT release in order to reveal potential sequelae of MDMA use on cognitive performance. The novel combination of PET imaging technique and dexfenfluramine challenge extends current receptor mapping techniques and provides a more direct biological marker of in vivo serotonin function relevant to the issue of MDMA neurotoxicity. By investigating both current and former ecstasy users, we aim to learn whether - and to what extent - the hypothesized serotonin deficiency syndrome is reversible after cessation of MDMA use. To date (November 2008), all experimental investigations are completed and detailed data analysis is ongoing.
Keywords / Suchbegriffe 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA, Ecstasy, Neurotoxicity, Serotonin, Dexfenfluramine, 5-HT2A Receptor, [18F]-Altanserin, PET, Positron Emission Tomography, Cognition, Human Study
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. F.X. Vollenweider (Project Leader)
Dr. B.B. Quednow (Project Leader)
Dr. F. Hasler
Prof. Dr. P.A. Schubiger  
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Nachwuchsförderungskredit der Universität Zürich, SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung), Foundation
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Olga Mayenfisch Stiftung Zürich, Hartmann Müller-Stiftung Zürich, Forschungsgrant des Landes Liechtenstein
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Prof. A. Schubiger, PET Zentrum USZ and PSI Switzerland
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Apr 2005 to May 2009