Functional connectivity, behavioral and dopaminergic alterations 24 hours following acute exposure to synthetic bath salt drug methylenedioxypyrovalerone

Luis M. Colon-Perez, Jose A. Pino, Kaustuv Saha, Marjory Pompilus, Sherman Kaplitz, Nafisa Choudhury, Darin A. Jagnarine, Jean R. Geste, Brandon A. Levin, Isaac Wilks, Barry Setlow, Adriaan W. Bruijnzeel, Habibeh Khoshbouei, Gonzalo E. Torres, Marcelo Febo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Among cathinone drugs known as bath salts, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) exerts its potent actions via the dopamine (DA) system, and at intoxicating doses may produce adverse behavioral effects. Previous work by our group suggests that prolonged alterations in correlated neural activity between cortical and striatal areas could underlie, at least in part, the adverse reactions to this bath salt drug. In the present study, we assessed the effect of acute MDPV administration on brain functional connectivity at 1 and 24 h in rats. Using graph theory metrics to assess in vivo brain functional network organization we observed that 24 h after MDPV administration there was an increased clustering coefficient, rich club index, and average path length. Increases in these metrics suggests that MDPV produces a prolonged pattern of correlated activity characterized by greater interactions between subsets of high degree nodes but a reduced interaction with regions outside this core subset. Further analysis revealed that the core set of nodes include prefrontal cortical, amygdala, hypothalamic, somatosensory and striatal areas. At the molecular level, MDPV downregulated the dopamine transporter (DAT) in striatum and produced a shift in its subcellular distribution, an effect likely to involve rapid internalization at the membrane. These new findings suggest that potent binding of MDPV to DAT may trigger internalization and a prolonged alteration in homeostatic regulation of DA and functional brain network reorganization. We propose that the observed MDPV-induced network reorganization and DAergic changes may contribute to previously reported adverse behavioral responses to MDPV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2018


  • Bath salts
  • Dopamine
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Functional connectivity
  • MDPV
  • fMRI


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