Assessment of chronic exposure to MDMA in a group of consumers by segmental hair analysis

Simona Pichini, Sandra Poudevida, Mitona Pujadas, Ester Menoyo, Roberta Pacifici, Magí Farré, Rafael De La Torre

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The suitability of segmental hair analysis of MDMA to monitor past chronic exposure to the drug was investigated in a follow-up study of ecstasy consumers. The purpose, among others, was to look for an objective biomarker of the history of drug consumption. Thirteen naturally colored hair samples were used to assess possible association between hair concentration of MDMA in 1-, 5-, and 9-cm segments and self-reported use in the last 1, 6, and 12 months. Agreement between the self-reported data given by the subjects on their "ecstasy" use in the previous month and MDMA hair concentration was good (r = 0.92) in all the examined subjects, with the exception of 2 individuals who declared a high consumption of the drug (12 tablets in the last month). When comparing the subjects' declaration of tablets consumed per month within the last 6 months, concordance with the hair MDMA values decreased and no correlation seemed to exist between the mean number of tablets consumed in the last 12 months and the concentration of MDMA in hair. However, when grouping subjects with a similar level of declared drug use (independently of whether in the previous month, last 6 months and last 12 months) and comparing the data with the mean MDMA concentrations found in the corresponding hair segments, an excellent level of agreement was found in groups of subjects consuming <5 tablets of MDMA per month (r = 0.93). Although the present findings were obtained from a small group of individuals and are intended as preliminary results, we can conclude that a cutoff of 0.5 ng MDMA per mg hair seems reasonable to assess drug consumption, unless the level of consumption was once per month in the last 12 months. Doubling the monthly consumption increases hair MDMA by around 1 ng/mg hair up to a level of 4 consumed tablets a month. It does not seem possible to draw definitive conclusions from higher concentrations in hair samples. Copyright © 2006 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-109
JournalTherapeutic Drug Monitoring
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • Chronic exposure
  • Ecstasy
  • Questionnaire
  • Segmental hair analysis


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