, Volume 227, Issue 3, pp 493–499

Mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), major constituents of “bath salts,” produce opposite effects at the human dopamine transporter

Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-013-2967-2

Cite this article as:
Cameron, K., Kolanos, R., Verkariya, R. et al. Psychopharmacology (2013) 227: 493. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-2967-2



Psychoactive “bath salts” represent a relatively new drug of abuse combination that was placed in Schedule I in October 2011. Two common ingredients of bath salts include the cathinone analogs: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). The mechanism of action of these synthetic cathinone analogs has not been well investigated.

Materials and methods

Because cathinone and methcathinone are known to act as releasing agents at the human dopamine transporter (hDAT), mephedrone and MDPV were investigated at hDAT expressed in Xenopus oocytes.


Whereas mephedrone was found to have the signature of a dopamine-releasing agent similar to methamphetamine or methcathinone, MDPV behaved as a cocaine-like reuptake inhibitor of dopamine.


Mephedrone and MDPV produce opposite electrophysiological signatures through hDAT expressed in oocytes. Implications are that the combination (as found in bath salts) might produce effects similar to a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine.


Synthetic cathinones Cocaine Dopamine transporter hDAT Mephedrone Methamphetamine Methcathinone Methylenedioxypyrovalerone Drug abuse 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Biophysics, School of MedicineVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of PharmacyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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