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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):501-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.10.006. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Long-term cognitive and neurochemical effects of "bath salt" designer drugs methylone and mephedrone.

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Institute of Biomedicine, Pharmacology, Biomedicum Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 8, FI-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland.



The use of cathinone-derivative designer drugs methylone and mephedrone has increased rapidly in recent years. Our aim was to investigate the possible long-term effects of these drugs on a range of behavioral tests in mice. Further, we investigated the long-term effects of these drugs on brain neurochemistry in both rats and mice.


We treated animals with a binge-like regimen of methylone or mephedrone (30 mg/kg, twice daily for 4 days) and, starting 2 weeks later, we performed behavioral tests of memory, anxiety and depression and measured brain levels of dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT), their metabolites and norepinephrine (NE). 5-HT and DA transporter (5-HTT and DAT) levels were also measured in rats by [(3)H]paroxetine and [(3)H]mazindol binding.


Mephedrone reduced working memory performance in the T-maze spontaneous alternation task but did not affect neurotransmitter levels aside from a 22% decrease in striatal homovanillic acid (HVA) levels in mice. Methylone had little effect on behavior or neurotransmitter levels in mice but produced a widespread depletion of 5-HT and 5-HTT levels in rats.


Both methylone and mephedrone appeared to have a long-term effect on either behavioral or biochemical gauges of neurotoxicity in rodents.

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