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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jan;232(1):91-100. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3641-z. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Behavioural and neurochemical assessment of salvinorin A abuse potential in the rat.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Division of Neuroscience and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria di Monserrato, 09042, Monserrato, CA, Italy.



Salvinorin A is a recreational drug derived from Salvia divinorum, a sage species long used as an entheogen. While salvinorin A has potent hallucinogenic properties, its abuse potential has not been assessed consistently in controlled behavioural and neurochemical studies in rodents.


This study aimed to assess salvinorin A abuse potential by measuring its capacity to establish and maintain self-administration behaviour and to modify dopamine (DA) levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) of rats.


Male Lister Hooded (LH) and Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were allowed to self-administer salvinorin A (0.5 or 1.0 μg/kg/infusion) intravenously 2 h/day for 20 days under a continuous schedule of reinforcement and lever pressing as operandum. LH rats discriminated between the active and inactive levers but did not reach the acquisition criterion for stable self-administration (≥12 active responses vs ≤5 inactive responses for at least 5 consecutive days). SD rats discriminated between the two levers at the lower dose only but, like LH rats, never acquired stable self-administration behaviour. Systemic salvinorin A increased extracellular DA in the NAcc shell of both LH (at ≥40 μg/kg) and SD rats (at ≥5 μg/kg), but injection into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) induced no significant change in NAcc DA concentration in LH rats and only brief elevations in SD rats.


Salvinorin A differs from other commonly abused compounds since although it affects accumbal dopamine transmission, yet it is unable, at least at the tested doses, to sustain stable intravenous self-administration behaviour.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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