Changes in dopamine, serotonin and their metabolites in brain microdialysates from rats following exposure to new psychoactive drugs


New psychoactive drugs (NPDs), or so-called “designer drugs” are chemically transformed compounds of traditional drugs of abuse for the purpose of evading crackdown. The abuse of NPDs is a significant social problem and threatens public health; however, few studies on their effects on the central nervous system have been conducted. Microdialysis is a useful in vivo sampling technique in neurochemistry because it enables monitoring of synaptic release of neurotransmitters by drug exposure or other stimuli in real time. Dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) are important neurotransmitters associated with drug abuse and addiction. In this study, changes of DA, 5-HT and their metabolites in brain microdialysates from rats following exposure to selected 11 NPDs (MPA, 5-APDB, PCA, α-PVT, AB-PINACA, QUPIC, 5-fluoropentyl-3-pyridinoylindole, AMT, NMT, 4-OH-DET and desoxy-D2PM, 0.3, 1 and 3 mg/kg, consecutively, intraperitoneally) were investigated using a validated liquid chromatography –tandem mass spectrometry method. Most NPDs affected the extracellular levels of DA, 5-HT and/or their metabolites, showing consistent changes depending on the groups of chemical structures, such as amphetamines, synthetic cannabinoids and tryptamines. Significant DA and/or 5-HT increases were observed for all the amphetamine analogues. Weak fluctuations of DA and/or 5-HT concentrations were observed following exposure to synthetic cannabinoids and more severe fluctuations were shown by the tryptamines. The current results could be used as the preliminary data for further research concerning monoamine neurotransmitter-related mechanisms of NPDs. Moreover, the understanding gained from this research could be helpful to monitor the liability of NPD abuse and addiction.

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This research was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (14182MFDS979) and by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2014R1A1A1036222).

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Correspondence to Sooyeun Lee.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. All experiments were carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Daegu Haany University.

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Kim, M., Kim, D.H., Lee, Y.S. et al. Changes in dopamine, serotonin and their metabolites in brain microdialysates from rats following exposure to new psychoactive drugs. Forensic Toxicol 35, 66–76 (2017).

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  • New psychoactive drugs
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Microdialysis
  • LC–MS/MS