Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder and the serotonergic system: a comprehensive review including new MDMA-related clinical cases

Ruud P W Litjens, Tibor M Brunt, Gerard-Jan Alderliefste, Remco H S Westerink
European Neuropsychopharmacology: the Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2014, 24 (8): 1309-23
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a drug-induced condition associated with inaccurate visual representations. Since the underlying mechanism(s) are largely unknown, this review aims to uncover aspects underlying its etiology. Available evidence on HPPD and drug-related altered visual processing was reviewed and the majority of HPPD cases were attributed to drugs with agonistic effects on serotonergic 5-HT₂A receptors. Moreover, we present 31 new HPPD cases that link HPPD to the use of ecstasy (MDMA), which is known to reverse serotonin reuptake and acts as agonist on 5-HT₂A receptors. The available evidence suggests that HPPD symptoms may be a result from a misbalance of inhibitory-excitatory activity in low-level visual processing and GABA-releasing inhibitory interneurons may be involved. However, high co-morbidities with anxiety, attention problems and derealization symptoms add complexity to the etiology of HPPD. Also, other perceptual disorders that show similarity to HPPD cannot be ruled out in presentations to clinical treatment. Taken together, evidence is still sparse, though low-level visual processing may play an important role. A novel finding of this review study, evidenced by our new cases, is that ecstasy (MDMA) use may also induce symptoms of HPPD.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"