Immunomodulating properties of MDMA alone and in combination with alcohol: A pilot study

R. Pacifici, P. Zuccaro, M. Farré, S. Pichini, S. Di Carlo, P. N. Roset, J. Ortuño, J. Segura, R. De La Torre

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Cell-mediated immune response after the administration of MDMA alone and in combination with alcohol was evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, cross-over pilot clinical trial conducted in four healthy MDMA consumers who received single oral doses of 75 mg MDMA (n = 2) or 100 mg MDMA (n = 2), alcohol (0.8 mg/kg), MDMA and alcohol, or placebo. Acute MDMA treatment produced a time-dependent immune dysfunction associated with MDMA plasma concentrations. Although total leukocyte count remained unchanged, there was a decrease in the CD4 T/CD8 T-cell ratio as well as in the percentage of mature T lymphocytes, probably because of a decrease in both the percentage and absolute number of T helper cells. The decrease in CD4 T-cell counts and in the functional responsiveness of lymphocytes to mitogenic stimulation was dose-dependent. The correlation between MDMA pharmacokinetics and the profile of MDMA-induced immune dysfunction suggests that alteration of the immune system may be mediated by the central nervous system. Alcohol consumption produced a decrease in T helper cells, B lymphocytes, and PHA-induced lymphocyte proliferation. Combined MDMA and alcohol produced the greatest suppressive effect on CD4 T-cell count and PHA-stimulated lymphoproliferation. Immune function was partially restored at 24 hours. These results provide the first evidence that recreational use of MDMA alone or in combination with alcohol alters the immunological status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)PL309-PL316
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 1999


  • Alcohol
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • MDMA


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