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. 2019 Nov;9(11):e01420.
doi: 10.1002/brb3.1420. Epub 2019 Oct 18.

The Psychoactive Cathinone Derivative Pyrovalerone Alters Locomotor Activity and Decreases Dopamine Receptor Expression in Zebrafish (Danio Rerio)

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Free PMC article

The Psychoactive Cathinone Derivative Pyrovalerone Alters Locomotor Activity and Decreases Dopamine Receptor Expression in Zebrafish (Danio Rerio)

Christopher Laurence Souders 2nd et al. Brain Behav. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Introduction: Pyrovalerone (4-methyl-β-keto-prolintane) is a synthetic cathinone (beta-keto-amphetamine) derivative. Cathinones are a concern as drugs of abuse, as related street drugs such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone have garnered significant attention. The primary mechanism of action of cathinones is to inhibit reuptake transporters (dopamine and norepinephrine) in reward centers of the central nervous system.

Methods: We measured bioenergetic, behavioral, and molecular responses to pyrovalerone (nM-µM) in zebrafish to evaluate its potential for neurotoxicity and neurological impairment.

Results: Pyrovalerone did not induce any mortality in zebrafish larvae over a 3- and 24-hr period; however, seizures were prevalent at the highest dose tested (100 µM). Oxidative phosphorylation was not affected in the embryos, and there was no change in superoxide dismutase 1 expression. Following a 3-hr treatment to pyrovalerone (1-100 µM), larval zebrafish (6d) showed a dose-dependent decrease (70%-90%) in total distance moved in a visual motor response (VMR) test. We interrogated potential mechanisms related to the hypoactivity, focusing on the expression of dopamine-related transcripts as cathinones can modulate the dopamine system. Pyrovalerone decreased the expression levels of dopamine receptor D1 (~60%) in larval zebrafish but did not affect the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine active transporter, or any other dopamine receptor subunit examined, suggesting that pyrovalerone may regulate the expression of dopamine receptors in a specific manner.

Discussion: Further studies using zebrafish are expected to reveal new insight into molecular mechanisms and behavioral responses to cathinone derivates, and zebrafish may be a useful model for understanding the relationship between the dopamine system and bath salts.

Keywords: MDPV; bath salts; behavioral screening; drug abuse; high-throughput.

Conflict of interest statement

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Oxygen consumption rates (pmol min−1 embryo−1) in zebrafish embryos exposed to pyrovalerone for 24 hr. Each point represents a mean value ± SD of the mean (N = 5)
Figure 2
Figure 2
Locomotor analysis of distance moved over the 50 min during a visual motor response (VMR) test after 3‐hr treatment to pyrovalerone. Each graph (left and right) represents an independent experiment. Group mean of the distance‐moved (mm)‐per‐minute intervals for fish (right panel). Total distance moved in each interval of the light and dark. Data are presented as mean value ± SE. Sample sizes for each experiment are reported in the methods. Different letters denote significant differences among groups within an interval (p < .05)
Figure 3
Figure 3
Locomotor analysis of distance moved over the 50 min during a visual motor response (VMR) test after 24‐hr treatment to pyrovalerone. Group mean of the distance‐moved (mm)‐per‐minute intervals for fish (right panel). Total distance moved in each interval of the light and dark. Data are presented as mean value ± SE. Sample size is reported in the methods. Different letters denote significant differences among groups within an interval (p < .05)
Figure 4
Figure 4
The expression levels of dat1 mRNA. Data are presented as mean value ± standard error (N = 8–10). Different letters reflect a significant difference between the groups (p ≤ .05)

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