SciCombinator

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Concept: Methamphetamine

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Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone, MMC) is a popular recreational drug, yet its potential harms are yet to be fully established. The current study examined the impact of single or repeated MMC exposure on various neurochemical and behavioral measures in rats. In Experiment 1 male adolescent Wistar rats received single or repeated (once a day for 10 days) injections of MMC (30 mg/kg) or the comparator drug methamphetamine (METH, 2.5 mg/kg). Both MMC and METH caused robust hyperactivity in the 1 h following injection although this effect did not tend to sensitize with repeated treatment. Striatal dopamine (DA) levels were increased 1 h following either METH or MMC while striatal and hippocampal serotonin (5-HT) levels were decreased 1 h following MMC but not METH. MMC caused greater increases in 5-HT metabolism and greater reductions in DA metabolism in rats that had been previously exposed to MMC. Autoradiographic analysis showed no signs of neuroinflammation ([(125)I]CLINDE ligand used as a marker for translocator protein (TSPO) expression) with repeated exposure to either MMC or METH. In Experiment 2, rats received repeated MMC (7.5, 15 or 30 mg/kg once a day for 10 days) and were examined for residual behavioral effects following treatment. Repeated high (30 mg/kg) dose MMC produced impaired novel object recognition 5 weeks after drug treatment. However, no residual changes in 5-HT or DA tissue levels were observed at 7 weeks post-treatment. Overall these results show that MMC causes acute but not lasting changes in DA and 5-HT tissue concentrations. MMC can also cause long-term memory impairment. Future studies of cognitive function in MMC users are clearly warranted.

Concepts: Psychology, Causality, Cognition, Opioid, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Recreational drug use

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The drug 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC; aka, mephedrone, MMCAT, “plant food”, “bath salts”) is a recent addition to the list of popular recreational psychomotor-stimulant compounds. Relatively little information about this drug is available in the scientific literature, but popular media reports have driven recent drug control actions in the UK and several US States. Online user reports of subjective similarity to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “Ecstasy”) prompted the current investigation of the thermoregulatory and locomotor effects of 4-MMC. Male Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats were monitored after subcutaneous administration of 4-MMC (1-10 mg/kg ) using an implantable radiotelemetry system under conditions of low (23°C) and high (27°C) ambient temperature. A reliable reduction of body temperature was produced by 4-MMC in Wistar rats at 23°C or 27°C with only minimal effect in Sprague-Dawley rats. Increased locomotor activity was observed after 4-MMC administration in both strains with significantly more activity produced in the Sprague-Dawley strain. The 10 mg/kg s.c. dose evoked greater increase in extracellular serotonin, compared with dopamine, in the nucleus accumbens. Follow-up studies confirmed that the degree of locomotor stimulation produced by 10 mg/kg 4-MMC was nearly identical to that produced by 1 mg/kg d-methamphetamine in each strain. Furthermore, hypothermia produced by the serotonin 1(A/7) receptor agonist 8-hydroxy-N,N-dipropyl-2-aminotetralin (8-OH-DPAT) was similar in each strain. These results show that the cathinone analog 4-MMC exhibits thermoregulatory and locomotor properties that are distinct from those established for methamphetamine or MDMA in prior work, despite recent evidence of neuropharmacological similarity with MDMA.

Concepts: Serotonin, Agonist, Dopamine, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Designer drug, Mephedrone

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Abuse of the stimulant designer drug methylone (methylenedioxymethcathinone) has been documented in most parts of the world. As with many of the new designer drugs that continuously appear in the illicit drug market, little is known about the pharmacokinetics of methylone. Using in vitro studies, CYP2D6 was determined to be the primary enzyme that metabolizes methylone, with minor contributions from CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP2C19. The major metabolite was identified as dihydroxymethcathinone, and the minor metabolites were N-hydroxy-methylone, nor-methylone, and dihydro-methylone. Measuring the formation of the major metabolite, biphasic Michaelis-Menten kinetic parameters were determined: Vmax,1 = 0.046 ± 0.005 (S.E.) nmol/min/mg protein, Km,1 = 19.0 ± 4.2 μM, Vmax,2 = 0.22 ± 0.04 nmol/min/mg protein, and Km,2 = 1953 ± 761 μM; the low-capacity and high-affinity contribution was assigned to the activity of CYP2D6. Additionally, a time-dependent loss of CYP2D6 activity was observed when the enzyme was preincubated with methylone, reaching a maximum rate of inactivation at high methylone concentrations, indicating that methylone is a mechanism-based inhibitor of CYP2D6. The inactivation parameters were determined to be KI = 15.1 ± 3.4 (S.E) μM and kinact = 0.075 ± 0.005 min(-1).

Concepts: Enzyme kinetics, Metabolism, Cytochrome P450, In vitro, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Designer drug, Methylone

165

Modafinil, in its two clinical formulations (Provigil(®) and Nuvigil(®)), is a widely prescribed wake-promoting therapeutic agent. It binds competitively to the cell-membrane dopamine (DA) transporter and is dependent on catecholaminergic (dopaminergic and adrenergic) signaling for its wake-promoting effects. The clinical spectrum of effects for modafinil is distinct from the effects seen with other catecholaminergic agents. Relative to other commonly used agents that act through catecholaminergic mechanisms, modafinil has a relatively low abuse potential, produces wakefulness with an attenuated compensatory sleep recovery thereafter, and does not ameliorate cataplexy in narcolepsy. These clinically relevant phenomenological differences between modafinil and agents such as amphetamines and cocaine do not eliminate catecholaminergic effects as a possible mediator of its wake-promoting action; they merely reflect its unique pharmacological profile. Modafinil is an exceptionally weak, but apparently very selective, DA transporter inhibitor. The pharmacodynamic response to modafinil, as measured by DA levels in brain microdialyzate, is protracted relative to other agents that act via catecholaminergic mechanisms. The conformational constraints on the interaction of modafinil with the DA transporter - and probably, as a consequence, its effects on trace amine receptor signaling in the catecholaminergic cell - are unique among catecholaminergic agents. These unique pharmacological properties of modafinil should be considered both in seeking to thoroughly understand its putatively elusive mechanism of action and in the design of novel therapeutic agents.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Narcolepsy, Therapeutic index

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A comparative risk assessment of drugs including alcohol and tobacco using the margin of exposure (MOE) approach was conducted. The MOE is defined as ratio between toxicological threshold (benchmark dose) and estimated human intake. Median lethal dose values from animal experiments were used to derive the benchmark dose. The human intake was calculated for individual scenarios and population-based scenarios. The MOE was calculated using probabilistic Monte Carlo simulations. The benchmark dose values ranged from 2 mg/kg bodyweight for heroin to 531 mg/kg bodyweight for alcohol (ethanol). For individual exposure the four substances alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin fall into the “high risk” category with MOE < 10, the rest of the compounds except THC fall into the "risk" category with MOE < 100. On a population scale, only alcohol would fall into the "high risk" category, and cigarette smoking would fall into the "risk" category, while all other agents (opiates, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants, ecstasy, and benzodiazepines) had MOEs > 100, and cannabis had a MOE > 10,000. The toxicological MOE approach validates epidemiological and social science-based drug ranking approaches especially in regard to the positions of alcohol and tobacco (high risk) and cannabis (low risk).

Concepts: Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Toxicology, Drug addiction, Heroin, Psychoactive drug, Methamphetamine

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BACKGROUND: Adderall is the most commonly abused prescription stimulant among college students. Social media provides a real-time avenue for monitoring public health, specifically for this population. OBJECTIVE: This study explores discussion of Adderall on Twitter to identify variations in volume around college exam periods, differences across sets of colleges and universities, and commonly mentioned side effects and co-ingested substances. METHODS: Public-facing Twitter status messages containing the term “Adderall” were monitored from November 2011 to May 2012. Tweets were examined for mention of side effects and other commonly abused substances. Tweets from likely students containing GPS data were identified with clusters of nearby colleges and universities for regional comparison. RESULTS: 213,633 tweets from 132,099 unique user accounts mentioned “Adderall.” The number of Adderall tweets peaked during traditional college and university final exam periods. Rates of Adderall tweeters were highest among college and university clusters in the northeast and south regions of the United States. 27,473 (12.9%) mentioned an alternative motive (eg, study aid) in the same tweet. The most common substances mentioned with Adderall were alcohol (4.8%) and stimulants (4.7%), and the most common side effects were sleep deprivation (5.0%) and loss of appetite (2.6%). CONCLUSIONS: Twitter posts confirm the use of Adderall as a study aid among college students. Adderall discussions through social media such as Twitter may contribute to normative behavior regarding its abuse.

Concepts: Sleep, University, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Stimulant, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Depressant, Twitter

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Recreational use of the cathinone derivative 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV; “bath salts”) has increased worldwide in past years, accompanied by accounts of health and legal problems in the popular media and efforts to criminalize possession in numerous jurisdictions. Minimal information exists on the effects of MDPV in laboratory models. This study determined the effects of MDPV, alongside those of the better studied stimulant d-methamphetamine (METH), using rodent models of intravenous self-administration (IVSA), thermoregulation and locomotor activity. Male Wistar rats were trained to self-administer MDPV or METH (0.05 mg/kg/infusion, i.v.) or were prepared with radiotelemetry implants for the assessment of body temperature and activity responses to MDPV or METH (0-5.6 mg/kg s.c.). METH and MDPV were consistently self-administered within 10 training sessions (mg/kg/hour; METH Mean=0.4 and Max = 1.15; MDPV Mean=0.9 and Max = 5.8). Dose-substitution studies demonstrated that behavior was sensitive to dose for both drugs, but MDPV (0.01-0.50 mg/kg/inf) showed greater potency and efficacy than METH (0.1-0.25 mg/kg/inf). In addition, both MDPV and METH increased locomotor activity at lower doses (0.5-1.0 mg/kg, s.c.) and transiently decreased activity at the highest dose (5.6 mg/kg, s.c.). Body temperature increased monotonically with increasing doses of METH but MDPV had a negligible effect on temperature. Stereotypy was associated with relatively high self-administered cumulative doses of MDPV (∼1.5 mg/kg/hr) as well as with non-contingent MDPV administration wherein the intensity and duration of stereotypy increased as MDPV dose increased. Thus, MDPV poses a substantial threat for compulsive use that is potentially greater than that for METH.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Drug, Morphine, Stimulant, Heat transfer, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Prohibition

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BACKGROUND: Stimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine have a high abuse liability, but not everyone who uses them develops dependence. However, the risk for dependence is increased for individuals with a family history of addiction. We hypothesized that individuals without a family history of dependence who have been using cocaine recreationally for several years but have not made the transition to dependence will differ in terms of personality traits and brain structure from individuals who are either dependent on stimulants or at risk for dependence. METHODS: We compared 27 individuals without a familial risk of dependence who had been using cocaine recreationally with 50 adults with stimulant dependence, their nondependent siblings (n = 50), and unrelated healthy volunteers (n = 52) who had neither a personal nor a family history of dependence. All participants underwent a magnetic resonance imaging brain scan and completed a selection of personality measures that have been associated with substance abuse. RESULTS: Increased sensation-seeking traits and abnormal orbitofrontal and parahippocampal volume were shared by individuals who were dependent on stimulant drugs or used cocaine recreationally. By contrast, increased levels of impulsive and compulsive personality traits and limbic-striatal enlargement were shared by stimulant-dependent individuals and their unaffected siblings. CONCLUSIONS: We provide evidence for distinct neurobiological phenotypes that are either associated with familial vulnerability for dependence or with regular stimulant drug use. Our findings further suggest that some individuals with high sensation-seeking traits but no familial vulnerability for dependence are likely to use cocaine but may have relatively low risk for developing dependence.

Concepts: Brain, Nicotine, Magnetic resonance imaging, Drug addiction, Stimulant, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Stimulants

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Benztropine (BZT) analogs, a family of agents with high affinity for the dopamine transporter have been postulated as potential treatments in stimulant abuse due to their ability to attenuate a wide range of effects evoked by psychomotor stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine (AMPH). Repeating administration of drugs, including stimulants, can result in behavioural sensitization, a progressive increase in their psychomotor activating effects. We examined in mice the sensitizing effects and the neuroplasticity changes elicited by chronic AMPH exposure, and the modulation of these effects by the BZT derivative and atypical dopamine uptake inhibitor, JHW007, a candidate medication for stimulant abuse. The results indicated that JHW007 did not produce sensitized locomotor activity when given alone but prevented the sensitized motor behavior induced by chronic AMPH administration. Morphological analysis of medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens revealed that JHW 007 prevented the neuroadaptations induced by chronic AMPH exposure, including increments in dendritic arborization, lengthening of dendritic processes and increases in spine density. Furthermore, data revealed that AMPH produced an increase in the density of asymmetric, possibly glutamatergic synapses in the nucleus accumbens, an effect that was also blocked by JHW007 pretreatment. The present observations demonstrate that JHW007 is able to prevent not only AMPH-induced behavioural sensitization but also the long-term structural changes induced by chronic AMPH in the nucleus accumbens. Such findings support the development and evaluation of BZT derivatives as possible leads for treatment in stimulant addiction.

Concepts: Neuron, Nicotine, Dopamine, Nucleus accumbens, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Recreational drug use, Dopamine reuptake inhibitor

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A number of methods of clandestine manufacture of methylamphetamine involve the extraction and subsequent reaction of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride with other essential chemicals. The precursor can be easily extracted from over-the-counter medication widely available in the UK and elsewhere. Essential chemicals such as iodine and red phosphorous are also readily available and can be extracted from iodine tinctures and matchboxes, respectively. This work reports the repetitive preparation of methylamphetamine using two popular routes (the Moscow and Hypophosphorous synthesis). The focus was on the extraction solvent used for isolation of the precursor chemical and any consequential isotopic variation which may arise in the final product. Six batches of methylamphetamine were prepared under precisely controlled conditions for each synthetic route and for each of three different precursor extraction solvents. Synthesis of the final product from laboratory grade precursor using the synthetic methods described was used as a template for comparison. The resultant IRMS data from all 48 prepared samples suggests some underlying trends in the identification of the synthetic route which may aid in the interpretation of IRMS data derived from clandestine samples.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Over-the-counter drug, Food and Drug Administration, Methamphetamine, Clandestine chemistry, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Phenylpropanolamine