Relative reinforcing effects of cocaine and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) under a concurrent access self-administration procedure in rats

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Mar 1:232:109299. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109299. Epub 2022 Jan 12.


Background: Recent evidence suggesting that polysubstance use is the norm rather than the exception highlights the need for a better understanding of interactions amongst the abuse-related effects of commonly co-abused drugs. Synthetic cathinones remain one of the most popular families of novel psychoactive substances and are typically used in preparations containing multiple stimulants. Evaluating the reinforcing effects of drugs under both single-operant procedures and procedures in which alternatives are available can provide a more complete characterization of their reinforcing effects and economic interactions.

Methods: These studies utilized a drug-versus-drug choice procedure in 18 male Sprague-Dawley rats to evaluate economic interactions between the synthetic cathinone, MDPV, and cocaine in addition to how a history of concurrent access impacts reinstatement behavior.

Results: When equi-effective doses of MDPV and cocaine were made concurrently available, approximately half of the subjects responded exclusively on the MDPV-reinforced lever whereas the other half responded exclusively on the cocaine-reinforced lever. Allocation of responding was reversed when the cost of the preferred drug increased, or the cost of the non-preferred drug decreased. Drug-paired cues and MDPV, cocaine, and methamphetamine pretreatments reinstated responding on both drug levers, regardless of preference.

Conclusion: These data demonstrate that MDPV and cocaine act as economic substitutes and suggest that measures of reinforcing effectiveness determined under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement can predict drug choice. These data also suggest that environmental stimuli associated with a particular drug might stimulate class-specific drug-seeking, however, further studies are needed to test the generality of this claim.

Keywords: Cocaine; Concurrent drug access; MDPV; Reinstatement; Self-administration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzodioxoles / pharmacology
  • Cocaine* / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Male
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Self Administration
  • Synthetic Cathinone


  • Benzodioxoles
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Cocaine
  • Synthetic Cathinone