Depressive mood ratings are reduced by MDMA in female polydrug ecstasy users homozygous for the l-allele of the serotonin transporter

K. P. C. Kuypers*, R. de la Torre, M. Farre, L. Xicota, E. B. de Sousa Fernandes Perna, E. L. Theunissen, J. G. Ramaekers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


MDMA exerts its main effects via the serotonergic system and the serotonin transporter. The gene coding for this transporter determines the expression rate of the transporter. Previously it was shown that healthy individuals with the short allelic variant ('s-group') of the 5-HTTLPR-polymorphism displayed more anxiety and negative mood, and had a lower transcriptional efficiency compared to individuals who are homozygous for the l-allele ('l-group'). The present study aimed to investigate the role of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in MDMA-induced mood effects. Four placebo-controlled, within-subject studies were pooled, including in total 63 polydrug ecstasy users (N s-group  = 48; N l-group  = 15) receiving MDMA 75 mg and placebo on two test days, separated by minimally 7 days. Mood was assessed by means of the Profile of Mood States. Findings showed that MDMA induced -independent of sex- a positive mood state, and as a side effect also increased two negative affect states, anxiety and confusion. Anxiety ratings were higher in the l-group and independent of treatment or sex. Depression ratings were lowered by MDMA in the female l-group. Findings indicate that the MDMA-induced reduction in self-rated depressive feelings is sex- and genotype-dependent, with females homozygous for the l-allele showing this beneficial effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1061
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect/drug effects
  • Alleles
  • Depression/etiology
  • Drug Users
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine/adverse effects
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins/genetics
  • Young Adult

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