, Volume 236, Issue 12, pp 3677–3685 | Cite as

Self-administration of the synthetic cathinones 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (α-PVP) in rhesus monkeys

  • Gregory T. CollinsEmail author
  • Agnieszka Sulima
  • Kenner C. Rice
  • Charles P. France
Original Investigation



The availability and abuse of synthetic analogues of cathinone have increased dramatically around the world. Synthetic cathinones, such as 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone [MDPV] and α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone [α-PVP], are cocaine-like inhibitors of monoamine transporters and common constituents of “bath salts” or “flakka” preparations. Studies in rats suggest that MDPV and α-PVP are 3 to 4-fold more effective reinforcers than cocaine; however, comparisons of the relative reinforcing effectiveness of MDPV and α-PVP have not been reported in other species.


Accordingly, in the present study, 4 adult male rhesus monkeys responding under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement were used to characterize the reinforcing effects of MDPV and α-PVP and to compare directly these effects with those of cocaine and methamphetamine.


MDPV was the most potent reinforcer, followed by α-PVP, methamphetamine, and cocaine. α-PVP was the most effective reinforcer, followed by MDPV, cocaine, and methamphetamine. In addition to making more responses to obtain MDPV and α-PVP, monkeys also responded for longer periods of time when MDPV or α-PVP was available compared with when either cocaine or methamphetamine was available for infusion.


These studies confirm recent reports from rodents and provide strong evidence that the synthetic cathinones MDPV and α-PVP are capable of maintaining high levels of responding for prolonged periods of time, and that they function as more effective reinforcers than either cocaine or methamphetamine. The relative strength of these reinforcing effects may account for the high rates of “bath salts” use reported in humans.


Synthetic cathinones MDPV α-PVP Cocaine Methamphetamine Rhesus monkey Self-administration 







Dopamine transporter


Norepinephrine transporter


Serotonin transporter


Progressive ratio




Analysis of variance



The authors would like to thank Jade Juarez, Krissian Martinez, Emily Spoliarch, and Samuel Womak for their excellent technical assistance in completing these studies.

Funding information

This research was supported by a National Institutes of Health research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA039146 [GTC]); the Intramural Research Programs of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provided support for the work conducted by the Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch (KCR, AS), and by the Welch Foundation (Grant AQ-0039 [CPF]). Funding sources had no involvement beyond financial support of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory T. Collins
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Agnieszka Sulima
    • 4
  • Kenner C. Rice
    • 4
  • Charles P. France
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Addiction Research, Treatment & Training Center of ExcellenceUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.South Texas Veterans Health Care SystemSan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.Drug Design and Synthesis Section, Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery BranchNational Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismBethesdaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterSan AntonioUSA

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