Synthetic cathinones: chemical phylogeny, physiology, and neuropharmacology

Life Sci. 2014 Feb 27;97(1):20-6. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2013.10.029. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


This mini-review summarizes the history of cathinone and its synthesized derivatives from early records to the present day, including the appearance of synthetic cathinones in the drug combination known as bath salts. Bath salts may consist of one compound (MDPV) or combinations of MDPV and one or more other synthetic cathinones, which may also appear alone without MDPV. We briefly review recent in vitro studies of bath salts components alone or in combination, focusing on pharmacological and biophysical studies. Finally we summarize new data from in vivo procedures that characterize the abuse-related neurochemical and behavioral effects of synthetic cathinones in rats.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Bath salts; Cocaine; Dopamine; Intracranial selfstimulation (ICSS); MDPV; Mephedrone; Methamphamine; Methcathinone; Methylone; Serotonin; Synthetic cathinones; Transporters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / chemical synthesis
  • Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Benzodioxoles / chemical synthesis
  • Benzodioxoles / chemistry
  • Benzodioxoles / pharmacology*
  • Designer Drugs / chemical synthesis
  • Designer Drugs / chemistry
  • Designer Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Pyrrolidines / chemical synthesis
  • Pyrrolidines / chemistry
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology


  • 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone
  • Alkaloids
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Designer Drugs
  • Pyrrolidines
  • cathinone