Locomotor stimulant and discriminative stimulus effects of 'bath salt' cathinones

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A number of psychostimulant-like cathinone compounds are being sold as 'legal' alternatives to methamphetamine or cocaine. The purpose of these experiments was to determine whether cathinone compounds stimulate motor activity and have discriminative stimulus effects similar to those of cocaine and/or methamphetamine. 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), methylone, mephedrone, naphyrone, flephedrone, and butylone were tested for locomotor stimulant effects in mice and subsequently for substitution in rats trained to discriminate cocaine (10 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) or methamphetamine (1 mg/kg, intraperitoneally) from saline. All compounds fully substituted for the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. Several commonly marketed cathinones produce discriminative stimulus effects comparable with those of cocaine and methamphetamine, which suggests that these compounds are likely to have similar abuse liabilities. MDPV and naphyrone produced locomotor stimulant effects that lasted much longer than those of cocaine or methamphetamine and therefore may be of particular concern, particularly because MDPV is one of the most commonly found substances associated with emergency room visits because of adverse effects of taking 'bath salts'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-447
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • abuse liability
  • cathinones
  • drug discrimination
  • locomotor activity
  • mouse
  • rat


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