Gouzoulis-Mayfrank E, Thelen B, Habermeyer E, Kunert HJ, Kovar KA, Lindenblatt H, Hermle L, Spitzer M, Sass H (1999) Psychopathological, neuroendocrine and autonomic effects of 3,4- methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE), psilocybin and d-methamphetamine in healthy volunteers. Results of an experimental double-blind placebo-controlled study. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 142: 41-50.

Eight healthy volunteers received 2 mg/kg methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDE) in a study comparing subjective, physiological and neuroendocrine effects of MDE, psilocybin and methamphetamine in 32 healthy volunteers (21 men, 11 women, average age 34.2, age range 27-37). All volunteers were healthy as established by medical and psychiatric examination, and none reported major mental illness in themselves or in first-degree family members. MDE was administered on two occasions. A functional imaging study of brain glucose metabolism was also reported in the same sample (see Gouzoulis-Mayfrank, Franke et al. 1999). Heart rate, blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and body temperature were measured twice prior to drug administration and every 20 minutes after drug administration for the first two hours. Physiological effects were assessed every 60 minutes after the first two hours until the end of the experiment. Subjective effects were assessed through interviews with experimenters, through observer0scored Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale and through self-report psychometric measures. These included the Hallucinogen Rating Scale (HRS), Altered States of Consciousness instrument (ASC, or known here as APZ), the State Trait Anxiety Scale (STAI), the Bech-Rafaelsen Mania and Depression Scales, and the Vegetative Lability Scale. Concentration of cortisol, prolactin and growth hormone were measured during the second experimental session from blood taken at -10, 0, 15, 30, 50, 70, 90, 110, 140, 180, 240 and 300 minutes (5 hours) after drug administration. (All female participants were assessed during the early follicular menstrual phase). Both psilocybin and MDE produced increases in all HRS, ASC, and Bech-Rafaelsen Mania-Depression scale scores. However, MDE produced higher reports on the "affect" scale of the HRS compared to other conditions, and psilocybin produced higher "perception" changes. Participants receiving MDE scored lower on the HRS "volition" (meaning more sense of self-control or sense of self) scale scores than did participants who received psilocybin. The PANSS "positive symptoms" scale could not distinguish those receiving MDE from those receiving the other drugs, though it could distinguish between psilocybin and methamphetamine subjects. Narrative self-reports of the MDE experience are that of a mostly pleasant, but strong, alteration of consciousness with increased people reporting a fearless state, feelings of closeness to others, sympathy, and intimate feelings). Intense euphoria was present in two participants, and sadness was present in another participant. Visual, aural (sound) and tactile (touch) alterations were experienced by all, including a simple visual ("pseudo," not perceived as real) hallucination in one case. An informal examination of subjective reports noted the contrast between marked somatic effects produced by MDE (such as tight jaw, sweating and tremor) and the calm and relaxed state participants reported experiencing after MDE. Subjective effects were stronger on first session when compared with second session; MDE produced higher HRS "somasthenia" (body changes, odd body sensations) score and a higher Vegetative Lability score on the first session compared with the second. MDE produced the strongest physiological effects, including an increase in systolic blood pressure of 30-40 mm Hg, elevated heart rate (increased by 40 to 45 beats per minute, and trends for increased diastolic blood pressure, and a modest bug significant increase in body temperature. (By comparison, psilocybin produced elevated systolic blood pressure and body temperature and methamphetamine elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure.) MDE, but not psilocybin, elevated serum cortisol and prolactin, but did not produce elevations in growth hormone.

Comments:
Taken together, these results suggest that MDE produces effects in humans similar to those reported after MDMA. These include changes in consciousness marked by mostly pleasant mood, some alterations in perception, and informally described feelings of closeness to others. Like MDMA, MDE increases blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature, and both drugs also increase cortisol and prolactin. A comparison of MDE with psilocybin and methamphetamine suggests that MDE stands in an intermediate place between psilocybin and methamphetamine, producing less activation than methamphetamine, but fewer intense emotional experiences and perceptual alterations than psilocybin. Insight into the experience was also always preserved after MDE, whereas those receiving psilocybin sometimes experienced transient paranoid thoughts and did not always have insight into the drug-induced nature of their experiences. These studies seem to suggest that MDE and MDMA may both be members of the proposed "entactogen" class, and that MDE can be administered safely in humans.

[See also under psilocybin]


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