4-Methylethcathinone is a drug that belongs to the second generation of synthetic cathinones. It recently has been ranked among the most popular “legal highs”. Although it has similar in vitro neurochemical actions to other drugs such as cocaine, the behavioral effects of 4-mec remain to be determined.
Because synthetic cathinones can have psychological effects, we also examined anxiety-like behavior using the elevated plus maze.
A conditioning dose of 10mg/kg 4-mec was able to induce conditioned place preference and reinstatement (following 2 weeks of withdrawal). Acute or repeated injections of 4-methylethcathinone at 3 or 10mg/kg failed to alter locomotor activity. At 30mg/kg, however, acute 4-methylethcathinone increased locomotor activity compared with saline, while chronic 4-methylethcathinone induced a delayed and attenuated sensitization compared with methamphetamine. Additionally, repeated daily injections of 4-mec (30mg/kg) reduced, whereas methamphetamine increased time spent by rats in the open arm of an elevated plus maze compared with saline injections. Interestingly, a 2-week withdrawal period following chronic injections of this substance or methamphetamine increased time spent in the open arm in all rats.
Additionally, chronic use may trigger abnormal anxious behaviors. These behavioral effects caused by 4-mec appear to last even after a withdrawal period.