Mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction due to the conversion of substituted cathinones to methylbenzamides in SH-SY5Y cells
OPEN Scientific reports | 16 Oct 2015
B den Hollander, M Sundström, A Pelander, A Siltanen, I Ojanperä, E Mervaala, ER Korpi and E Kankuri
The increased use of cathinone-type designer drugs, known as legal highs, has led to concerns about their potential neurotoxicity due to their similarity to methamphetamine (METH). Therefore, closer investigations of their toxic effects are needed. We investigated the effects of the cathinones 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone (MDMC) and the amphetamine METH on cytotoxicity and mitochondrial respiration in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. We also investigated the contribution of reactive species, dopamine, Bcl-2 and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) on toxicity. Finally, we investigated the effect of cathinone breakdown products using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography/high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry and studied their involvement in toxicity. We observed dose-dependent increases in cytotoxicity and decreases in mitochondrial respiration following treatment with all cathinones and amphetamines. Glutathione depletion increases amphetamine, but not cathinone toxicity. Bcl-2 and TNFα pathways are involved in toxicity but dopamine levels are not. We also show that cathinones, but not amphetamines, spontaneously produce reactive species and cytotoxic methylbenzamide breakdown products when in aqueous solution. These results provide an important first insight into the mechanisms of cathinone cytotoxicity and pave the way for further studies on cathinone toxicity in vivo.
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