Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Lisa E. Baker

Second Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Third Advisor

Dr. Bradley E. Huitema


Cocaine, 3 .4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, locomotor activity, monoamine content, Sprague-Dawley

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Synthetic cathinones, known as “bath salts” on the illicit drug market, pose a significant and growing public health concern. 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), one of several popular constituents of the illicit bath salts, produces similar pharmacological actions to cocaine, albeit with greater potency. The present study sought to characterize behavioral and neurochemical effects of repeated exposure to MDPV alone and in combination with cocaine. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to one of four treatments: 1 mg/kg MDPV, 5 mg/kg cocaine, 1 mg/kg MDPV + 5 mg/kg cocaine, or saline. Locomotor activity was assessed for one hour immediately before and one hour immediately after injections on days 1 and 6. Brains were harvested 20 minutes after the final injection on day 7. Total monoamine content within the anterior striatum, medial prefrontal cortex, and nucleus accumbens was determined with High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Drug-induced increases in horizontal activity were significantly greater on treatment day 6 compared to treatment day 1 in all three drug treatment groups in comparison to the saline control group. Moreover, MDPV produced significantly higher increases in activity compared to either saline or cocaine. Neurochemical analyses provided no evidence of alterations in total monoamine content following repeated administration of MDPV or cocaine. Further investigations targeting possible changes in DA receptor sensitivity following repeated exposure to MDPV may help elucidate the mechanistic changes responsible for MDPV-induced behavioral sensitization.