Background and purpose: Here, we have compared the neurochemical profile of three new cathinones, butylone, mephedrone and methylone, in terms of their potential to inhibit plasmalemmal and vesicular monoamine transporters. Their interaction with 5-HT and dopamine receptors and their psychostimulant effect was also studied.
Experimental approach: Locomotor activity was recorded in mice following different doses of cathinones. Monoamine uptake assays were performed in purified rat synaptosomes. Radioligand-binding assays were carried out to assess the affinity of these compounds for monoamine transporters or receptors.
Key results: Butylone, mephedrone and methylone (5-25 mg·kg(-1) ) caused hyperlocomotion, which was prevented with ketanserin or haloperidol. Methylone was the most potent compound inhibiting both [(3) H]5-HT and [(3) H]dopamine uptake with IC(50) values that correlate with its affinity for dopamine and 5-HT transporter. Mephedrone was found to be the cathinone derivative with highest affinity for vesicular monoamine transporter-2 causing the inhibition of dopamine uptake. The affinity of cathinones for 5-HT(2A) receptors was similar to that of MDMA.
Conclusions and implications: Butylone and methylone induced hyperlocomotion through activating 5-HT(2A) receptors and increasing extra-cellular dopamine. They inhibited 5-HT and dopamine uptake by competing with substrate. Methylone was the most potent 5-HT and dopamine uptake inhibitor and its effect partly persisted after withdrawal. Mephedrone-induced hyperlocomotion was dependent on endogenous 5-HT. Vesicular content played a key role in the effect of mephedrone, especially for 5-HT uptake inhibition. The potency of mephedrone in inhibiting noradrenaline uptake suggests a sympathetic effect of this cathinone.
© 2012 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.