Pharmacology and toxicology of synthetic cathinones ("bath salts")

Brian T. Burrows, Seven E. Tomek, Erin Nagy, Cara Popeski, Michael Olive

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Synthetic cathinones, frequently referred to as "bath salts," are amphetamine-like psychostimulants that emerged onto drug markets in the late 2000's as "legal" alternatives to illicit stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. While their pharmacological mechanisms of action are similar to those of the drugs they are intended to mimic, their adverse psychiatric effects can be more severe and result in agitated delirium, psychosis, and violent behaviors. These problems are further complicated by a constantly shifting landscape of newer cathinone analogues designed to circumvent legislative control efforts. In this chapter, we will review the known pharmacological mechanisms of action of first- and secondgeneration Synthetic cathinones in the central nervous system in comparison to those of cocaine and amphetamines. We will also review their use patterns, adverse psychological and physiological effects, and recent studies that have assessed the potential toxic effects of Synthetic cathinones as well as their ability to induce neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHorizons in Neuroscience Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781536124712
ISBN (Print)9781536124644
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Abuse liability
  • Cocaine
  • Cognition
  • Inflammation
  • Methamphetamine
  • Psychostimulants
  • Synthetic cathinones
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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