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

Gregory T. Collins, Agnieszka Sulima, Kenner C. Rice, Charles P. France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Rationale: 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. Objectives: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3677-3685
Number of pages9
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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