Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Lisa Baker

Second Advisor

Mark Rzeszutek


Two common constituents of psychoactive “bath salts”, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and α-pyrrolidinoipentiophenone (α-PVP) belong to a novel class of synthetic substances structurally related to the psychostimulant drug, cathinone. Recreational use of MDPV and α-PVP pose serious health risks, which may be exacerbated by concomitant use of both substances. Preclinical psychopharmacology studies have established that MDPV and α‑PVP have high abuse liabilities, comparable to that of cocaine and methamphetamine. Despite the likelihood of concurrent use of these substances among recreational users, few preclinical studies have examined the combined behavioral or neurochemical effects of these drugs. The purpose of this study was to use an established animal model of drug abuse liability, rodent conditioned place preference (CPP), to determine if concurrent treatment with MDPV and α-PVP produce stronger locomotor activation or CPP compared to each individual substance. A secondary aim of this study was to assess sex as variable in the behavioral effects of these substances. Females exhibited a stronger response than males to the locomotor stimulant effects of α-PVP and the α-PVP +MDPV mixture. Moreover, the α-PVP +MDPV mixture produced significantly greater increases in activity compared to either drug alone, but only in females. MDPV and the α-PVP +MDPV mixture established CPP in both sexes, whereas α-PVP alone failed to produce CPP in either sex. These results are consistent with previous preclinical study findings that females may be more susceptible to the abuse risk of these synthetic cathinones. Further investigation is warranted to determine the mechanisms responsible for sex differences in the behavioral effects of these drugs.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

Restricted to Campus until