Nantenine: An antagonist of the behavioral and physiological effects of MDMA in mice

William E. Fantegrossi, Christina Lynn Kiessel, P. Tarn Leach, C. Van Martin, Rachel Lynn Karabenick, X. Chen, Y. Ohizumi, Thomas Ullrich, Kenner C. Rice, James H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Rationale: No selective antagonists for the effects of MDMA have yet been identified. The structurally-similar, naturally-occurring plant alkaloid nantenine (9,10-methylenedioxy-1,2 dimethoxyaporphine) may represent such a compound. Objectives: To investigate the capacity of nantenine to block and/or reverse MDMA-induced hyperthermia, lethality, locomotor stimulation, and head twitches in mice, and to compare these actions with those of the selective α1 antagonist prazosin and the selective 5-HT2A antagonist M100907. Methods: Pretreatments of either 10 mg/kg nantenine or 1 mg/kg prazosin were administered 15 min before 32 mg/kg MDMA; core temperature and locomotor stimulation were then monitored via radiotelemetry for at least 3 h. In further hyperthermia studies, 32 mg/kg MDMA was administered first and temperature was allowed to rise for 30 min; 10 mg/kg nantenine, 1 mg/kg prazosin, or 1 mg/kg M100907 was then administered in an attempt to reverse MDMA-induced hyperthermia. In lethality assays, percent lethality was quantified 2 h after MDMA injection in two distinct housing conditions, one or 12 mice per cage, with or without 15 min pretreatments of 10 mg/kg nantenine or 1 mg/kg prazosin. Drug elicited head twitches were quantified for 10 min following administration of either MDMA enantiomer, with and without pretreatments of 1 mg/kg nantenine, 0.1 mg/kg prazosin, or 0.001 mg/kg M100907. Results: Nantenine blocked and rapidly reversed MDMA-induced hyperthermia, attenuated lethality in both housing conditions, and reduced MDMA-induced locomotor stimulation and head twitches in mice. Prazosin blocked, but did not reverse, MDMA-induced hyperthermia, attenuated lethality (more effectively in singly-housed animals), and reduced MDMA-induced locomotor stimulation and head twitches. M100907 did not reverse MDMA-induced hyperthermia, but effectively blocked drug-elicited head twitches. Conclusions: Nantenine functions as an effective antagonist against a wide range of MDMA-induced effects in mice. The antagonist actions of this compound at serotonin and adrenergic receptors may be differentially implicated across endpoints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Hyperthermia
  • MDMA
  • Nantenine
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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