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Neurotox Res. 2018 Oct;34(3):388-400. doi: 10.1007/s12640-018-9898-y. Epub 2018 Apr 14.

The Designer Drug 3-Fluoromethcathinone Induces Oxidative Stress and Activates Autophagy in HT22 Neuronal Cells.

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Department of Histology, Medical University of Gdańsk, 1 Dębinki St, 80-211, Gdańsk, Poland.
Department of Histology, Medical University of Gdańsk, 1 Dębinki St, 80-211, Gdańsk, Poland.
Laboratory of Cell Biology, Department of Medical Biotechnology, Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG-MUG, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland.


Synthetic cathinones are psychoactive substances, derivatives of a natural psychostimulant cathinone. Although many synthetic cathinones have lost their legal status in many countries, their abuse still continues worldwide. Recently, they have been reported to exert neurotoxic effects in vitro and in vivo. The molecular mechanisms of their action have not been fully elucidated. Recently, they have been linked to the induction of oxidative stress, autophagy, and apoptosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether 3-fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC), a synthetic cathinone, is able to induce oxidative stress, autophagy, and apoptosis in HT22 immortalized mouse hippocampal cells. We found that treatment of HT22 cells with this compound results in a concentration-dependent increase in the intracellular production of reactive oxygen species. Moreover, 3-FMC induced concentration-dependent conversion of cytosolic LC3-I to membrane-bound LC3-II and formation of autophagic vacuoles. Additionally, the level of p62/SQSTM1 protein decreased after 3-FMC treatment, suggesting that accumulation of autophagic vacuoles resulted from activation rather than inhibition of autophagy. Our results also showed that 3-FMC at millimolar concentration is able to induce caspase-dependent apoptotic cell death in HT22 cells. Our findings suggest that abuse of 3-FMC may disturb neuronal homeostasis and impair functioning of the central nervous system.


3-Fluoromethcathinone; Apoptosis; Autophagy; Designer drugs; Oxidative stress; Synthetic cathinones

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