Dose-Response Pharmacological Study of Mephedrone and Its Metabolites: Pharmacokinetics, Serotoninergic Effects, and Impact of CYP2D6 Genetic Variation

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2019 Sep;106(3):596-604. doi: 10.1002/cpt.1417. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Mephedrone (MEPH), the most widely consumed synthetic cathinone, has been associated with acute toxicity episodes. The aim of this report was to study its metabolic disposition and the impact of genetic variation of CYP2D6 on MEPH metabolism, in a dose range compatible with its recreational use. A randomized, crossover, phase I clinical trial was performed. Subjects received 50 and 100 mg (n = 3) and 150 and 200 mg (n = 6) of mephedrone and were genetically and phenotypically characterized for the CYP2D6 allelic variation. Our results showed a linear kinetics of mephedrone at the dose range assayed: plasma concentrations, cardiovascular and subjective effects, and blood serotonin concentrations all correlated in a dose-dependent manner. Mephedrone metabolic disposition is mediated by CYP2D6. Mephedrone pharmacology presented a linear dose-dependence within the range of doses tested. The metabolism of mephedrone by CYP2D6 implies that recreational users with no or low CYP2D6 functionality are exposed to unwanted acute toxicity episodes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacokinetics*
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacology
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Methamphetamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacokinetics
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Phenotype
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Serotonin
  • Methamphetamine
  • mephedrone
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6