Neurocognitive dysfunction following repeated binge-like self-administration of the synthetic cathinone 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)

Kaveish Sewalia, Lucas R. Watterson, Alyssa Hryciw, Anna Belloc, J. Bryce Ortiz, Michael Olive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Synthetic cathinones, frequently referred to as “bath salts”, have significant abuse potential, and recent evidence suggests that these novel psychoactive substances can also produce cognitive deficits as well as cytotoxic effects. However, most of these latter findings have been obtained either using high concentrations in vitro or following non-contingent high dose administration in vivo. The present study utilized a model of long-term voluntary binge-like self-administration to determine potential detrimental effects of synthetic cathinones on cognitive function and their known underlying neural circuits, collectively referred to as neurocognitive dysfunction. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were allowed to self-administer the cocaine-like synthetic cathinone 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV, 0.03 mg/kg/infusion i.v.) in 96-hr sessions, or saline as a control. A total of five 96-hr sessions were conducted, each separated by 3 days of abstinence in the home cage. Three weeks following the last 96-hr session, animals underwent assessment of cognitive function using spatial object recognition (SOR) and novel object recognition (NOR) tasks, after which brains were harvested and assessed for neurodegeneration using FluoroJade C (FJC). Compared to animals self-administering saline, animals self-administering MDPV demonstrated (1) robust drug intake that escalated over time, (2) deficits in NOR but not SOR, and (3) neurodegeneration in the perirhinal and entorhinal cortices. These results indicate that repeated binge-like intake of MDPV can induce neurocognitive dysfunction. In addition, utilization of rodent models of extended binge-like intake may provide insight into potential mechanisms and/or approaches to prevent or reverse the detrimental effects of abused substances on cognitive and neurobiological functioning. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Designer Drugs and Legal Highs.’

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
StatePublished - May 15 2018


  • Binge
  • Entorhinal cortex
  • MDPV
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Novel object recognition
  • Perirhinal cortex
  • Pyrovalerone
  • Self-administration
  • Spatial object recognition
  • Synthetic cathinone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurocognitive dysfunction following repeated binge-like self-administration of the synthetic cathinone 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this