Discriminative and locomotor effects of five synthetic cathinones in rats and mice

Michael B. Gatch, Margaret A. Rutledge, Michael J. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Rationale: Synthetic cathinones continue to be sold as "legal" alternatives to methamphetamine or cocaine. As these marginally legal compounds become controlled, suppliers move to other, unregulated compounds. Objectives: The purpose of these experiments was to determine whether several temporarily controlled cathinone compounds, which are currently abused on the street, stimulate motor activity and have discriminative stimulus effects similar to cocaine and/or methamphetamine. Methods: Methcathinone, pentedrone, pentylone, 3-fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC), and 4-methylethcathinone (4-MEC) were tested for locomotor stimulant effects in mice and subsequently for substitution in rats trained to discriminate cocaine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) or methamphetamine (1 mg/kg, i.p.) from saline. Results: Methcathinone, pentedrone, and pentylone produced locomotor stimulant effects which lasted up to 6 h. In addition, pentylone produced convulsions and lethality at 100 mg/kg. 4-MEC produced locomotor stimulant effects which lasted up to 2 h. Methcathinone, pentedrone, pentylone, 3-FMC, and 4-MEC each produced discriminative stimulus effects similar to those of cocaine and methamphetamine. Conclusions: All of the tested compounds produce discriminative stimulus effects similar to either those of cocaine, methamphetamine, or both, which suggests that these compounds are likely to have similar abuse liability to cocaine and/or methamphetamine. Pentylone may be more dangerous on the street, as it produced adverse effects at doses that produced maximal stimulant-like effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1205
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2015



  • Abuse liability
  • Cathinones
  • Drug discrimination
  • Locomotor activity
  • Mouse
  • Rat

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