, Volume 232, Issue 11, pp 1867–1877 | Cite as

Binge-like acquisition of 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) self-administration and wheel activity in rats

  • S. M. Aarde
  • P. K. Huang
  • T. J. Dickerson
  • M. A. TaffeEmail author
Original Investigation



Lack of access to conventional sources of reinforcement has been proposed as a risk factor for substance abuse in lower socioeconomic populations. There is laboratory evidence that behavioral alternatives (enrichment or exercise) and alternative reinforcers (e.g., sweetened solutions) can reduce self-administration of a variety of drugs.


The objective of this study is to determine if drug self-administration could devalue wheel activity in an animal model.


Male Wistar rats were trained to self-administer 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV; “bath salts”), 0.05 mg/kg/infusion, i.v., with concurrent access to a running wheel that was either locked (LW) or unlocked (UW).


MDPV intake steadily increased across the 20-session acquisition interval but did not differ significantly between UW and LW groups. Mean wheel rotations declined significantly across the acquisition interval in the UW group. Of the rats that acquired self-administration, 60 % engaged in a binge-like behavior at the initiation of acquisition; intake was limited only by post-reinforcement time-out. The binge rats had higher post-acquisition levels of drug intake (even after excluding the binge session), and the UW binge rats showed a precipitous post-acquisition drop in wheel activity that was not observed in the UW no-binge rats.


These data confirm that MDPV is a powerful reward/reinforcer and show that a relatively high rate of intake at the onset of drug taking can devalue natural rewards (wheel activity) and can predict higher subsequent drug intake levels. Thus, limiting the intensity of initial drug exposure may attenuate subsequent drug abuse/addiction by preventing the devaluation of natural alternative rewards/reinforcers.


Stimulants Drug abuse Exercise Self-administration Cathinone Reward 



This work was supported by USPHS grants DA024105 and DA024705; the NIH/NIDA had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The MDPV was synthesized by Garry R. Smith, PhD, at Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center (Doylestown, PA) from routes designed by T.J.D. under contract from T.J.D. and M.A.T. This is manuscript #24009 from The Scripps Research Institute. These experiments complied with the applicable laws of the USA.

Conflict of interest

The authors report no financial conflicts that are relevant to the conduct of this study.

Supplementary material

213_2014_3819_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (976 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 975 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Aarde
    • 1
  • P. K. Huang
    • 1
  • T. J. Dickerson
    • 2
  • M. A. Taffe
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive DisordersThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA

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