Effects of α‐Pyrrolidinopentiophenone and 4-Methyl-N-Ethylcathinone, Two Synthetic Cathinones Commonly Found in Second-Generation “Bath Salts,” on Intracranial Self-Stimulation Thresholds in Rats
Use of synthetic cathinones, which are designer stimulants found in “bath salts,” has increased dramatically in recent years. Following governmental bans of methylenedioxypyrovalerone, mephedrone, and methylone, a second generation of synthetic cathinones with unknown abuse liability has emerged as replacements.
Using a discrete trials current intensity threshold intracranial self-stimulation procedure, the present study assessed the effects of 2 common second-generation synthetic cathinones, α‐pyrrolidinopentiophenone (0.1–5mg/kg) and 4-methyl-N-ethcathinone (1–100mg/kg) on brain reward function. Methamphetamine (0.1–3mg/kg) was also tested for comparison purposes.
Results revealed both α‐pyrrolidinopentiophenone and 4-methyl-N-ethcathinone produced significant intracranial self-stimulation threshold reductions similar to that of methamphetamine. α‐Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (1mg/kg) produced a significant maximal reduction in intracranial self-stimulation thresholds (~19%) most similar to maximal reductions produced by methamphetamine (1mg/kg, ~20%). Maximal reductions in intracranial self-stimulation thresholds produced by 4-methyl-N-ethcathinone were observed at 30mg/kg (~15%) and were comparable with those observed with methamphetamine and α‐pyrrolidinopentiophenone tested at the 0.3-mg/kg dose (~14%). Additional analysis of the ED50 values from log-transformed data revealed the rank order potency of these drugs as methamphetamine ≈ α‐pyrrolidinopentiophenone>4-methyl-N-ethcathinone.
These data suggest that the newer second-generation synthetic cathinones activate the brain reward circuitry and thus may possess a similar degree of abuse potential as prototypical illicit psychostimulants such as methamphetamine as well as the first generation synthetic cathinone methylenedioxypyrovalerone, as previously reported.