Toxicity of the 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and Its Enantiomers to Daphnia magna after Isolation by Semipreparative Chromatography


MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a chiral psychoactive recreational drug sold in illicit markets as racemate. Studies on the impact of MDMA on aquatic organisms are scarce. While enantioselectivity in toxicity in animals and humans has been reported, none is reported on aquatic organisms. This study aimed to investigate the ecotoxicological effects of MDMA and its enantiomers in Daphnia magna. For that, enantiomers (enantiomeric purity > 97%) were separated by liquid chromatography using a homemade semipreparative chiral column. Daphnids were exposed to three concentrations of (R,S)-MDMA (0.1, 1.0 and 10.0 µg L-1) and two concentrations of (R)- and (S)-enantiomers (0.1 and 1.0 µg L-1) over the course of 8 days. Morphophysiological responses were dependent on the substance form and daphnia development stage, and they were overall not affected by the (R)-enantiomer. Changes in swimming behaviour were observed for both the racemate and its enantiomers, but enantioselective effects were not observed. Reproductive or biochemical changes were not observed for enantiomers whereas a significant decrease in acetylcholinesterase and catalase activity was noted at the highest concentration of (R,S)-MDMA (10 µg L-1). Overall, this study showed that sub-chronic exposure to MDMA racemate and its enantiomers can interfere with morphophysiological and swimming behaviour of D. magna. In general, the (R)-enantiomer demonstrated less toxicity than the (S)-enantiomer.

Authors: Ana Rita Costa, Virgínia M F Gonçalves, Bruno B Castro, João Soares Carrola, Ivan Langa, Ariana Pereira, Ana Rita Carvalho, Maria Elizabeth Tiritan, Cláudia Ribeiro
; Full Source: Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) 2023 Feb 2;28(3):1457. doi: 10.3390/molecules28031457.