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Biol Pharm Bull. 2014;37(5):771-8.

The aversive, anxiolytic-like, and verapamil-sensitive psychostimulant effects of pulegone.

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Laboratory of Pharmacology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Federal University of Uberlândia.


We investigated the psychostimulant, rewarding, and anxiolytic-like effects of pulegone. Possible interactions between pulegone and menthol concerning their psychostimulant effect were also analyzed. General mouse activity after pulegone treatment, and the interacitons between pulegone and menthol, were determined in the open field. The anxiolytic-like activity, motor coordination and strength force were evaluated using the elevated plus maze (EPM), rotarod test and grasping test, respectively. The motivational properties of pulegone were evaluated by pairing the drug effects on the mice with the least preferred compartment (previously determined) of a conditioned place preference (CPP) apparatus. Pulegone increased mouse locomotor activity and immobilization time. Verapamil, but not diltiazem, haloperidol or picrotoxin, decreased the psychostimulation induced by pulegone. Pulegone also decreased grooming and rearing behaviors and caused motor incoordination and weakness at high doses. Pulegone increased the time spent by mice in the open arms of the EPM, and flumazenil pre-treatment did not alter this effect. Pulegone either produced no CPP or induced conditioned place aversion. The changes in mouse ambulatory activity caused by the association of pulegone with menthol were either lower than those predicted by the theoretical curve or not different from the predicted values. Therefore, pulegone induces a verapamil-sensitive psychostimulant effect that appears to independ on the opening of L-type calcium channels. Pulegone has negative reinforcing properties and seems to possess anxiolytic-like actions unrelated to the benzodiazepine site of the γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor. Finally, pulegone might act in an addictive or synergic way with menthol.

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