Behavioral effects of four novel synthetic cathinone analogs in rodents

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A new generation of novel cathinone compounds has been developed as stimulant substitutes to avoid drug control laws and detection of use by blood tests. Dipentylone, N-ethylhexedrone, 4-chloroethcathinone (4-CEC), and 4′-methyl-α-pyrrolidinohexiophenone (MPHP) were tested for in vivo psychostimulant-like effects to assess their abuse liability. Locomotor activity was assessed in an open-field assay using Swiss–Webster mice to screen for locomotor stimulant effects and to identify behaviorally-active dose ranges, times of peak effect, and durations of action. Discriminative stimulus effects were assessed in separate groups of Sprague–Dawley rats trained to discriminate cocaine or methamphetamine from vehicle. Dipentylone, N-ethylhexedrone, 4-CEC, and MPHP dose-dependently increased locomotor activity. Dipentylone, N-ethylhexedrone, and MPHP produced maximal stimulant effects similar to cocaine and methamphetamine. 4-CEC was less efficacious, producing peak stimulant effects of about 74% of that of methamphetamine. The compounds were less potent than methamphetamine and approximately equipotent with cocaine. The doses of cocaine, methamphetamine, dipentylone, and 4-CEC that produced peak effects lasted 2 to 3 h, the peak dose of N-ethylhexedrone lasted 4 h, and the peak dose of MPHP lasted 6 h. All four compounds fully substituted for the discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine and cocaine, although full substitution by 4-CEC occurred at doses that substantially decreased response rate. Only 4-CEC fully substituted for MDMA. These data provide evidence that the novel cathinone compounds dipentylone, N-ethylhexedrone, 4-CEC, and MPHP demonstrate potential for abuse as psychostimulants, given their ability to stimulate locomotor activity and their substitution for the discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine and cocaine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12987
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • abuse liability
  • cathinones
  • drug discrimination
  • locomotor activity
  • psychostimulants


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