First Time View on Human Metabolome Changes after a Single Intake of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine in Healthy Placebo-Controlled Subjects

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study (n=15) investigated changes in endogenous plasma metabolites following a single intake of MDMA (125 mg) and found an overall increase in oxidative stress indicated by the metabolic ratio of methionine-sulfoxide over methionine.


Introduction: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; “ecstasy”) is widely consumed recreationally. Little is known about its effects on the human metabolome. Mapping biochemical changes after drug exposure can complement traditional approaches by revealing potential biomarkers of organ toxicity or discovering new metabolomic features in a time- and dose-dependent manner.

Methods: We aimed to analyze for the first time plasma samples from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in healthy adults to explore changes in endogenous plasma metabolites following a single intake of MDMA. Plasma samples from 15 subjects taken at four different time points were analyzed with the commercially available AbsoluteIDQ kit (Biocrates).

Results: Time series analysis revealed a total of nine metabolites, which showed a significant concentration change after MDMA administration compared with placebo. Paired t tests of the single time points showed statistically significant concentration changes mainly of glycerophospholipids and the metabolic ratio of methionine-sulfoxide over methionine.

Discussion: Changes of this metabolic ratio may be indicative for changes in systemic oxidative stress levels, and the increased amount of glycerophospholipids could be interpreted as an upregulation of energy production. Baseline samples within the experimental study design were crucial for evaluation of metabolomics data as interday individuality within subjects was high otherwise resulting in overestimations of the findings.”

Authors: Martina I. Boxler, Matthias E. Liechti, Yasmin Schmid, Thomas Kraemer & Andrea E. Steuer

Study details

Compounds studied

Topics studied

Study characteristics
Original Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Within-Subject Randomized

15 Humans


Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Yasmin Schmid
Yasmin Schmid is a physician who previously worked at the University of Basil Liechti Lab.

Matthias Liechti
Matthias Emanuel Liechti is the research group leader at the Liechti Lab at the University of Basel.


Institutes associated with this publication

University of Basel
The University of Basel Department of Biomedicine hosts the Liechti Lab research group, headed by Matthias Liechti.

Compound Details

The psychedelics given at which dose and how many times

MDMA 125 mg | 1x

Linked Clinical Trial

Influence of Bupropion on the Effects of MDMA
The purpose of this study is to determinate the effect of a pre-treatment with bupropion, a dopamine and norepinephrine transporter inhibitor, on the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "Ecstasy"). The study will provide further understanding of the dopaminergic regulation of mood.