New designer phenethylamines 2C-C and 2C-P have abuse potential and induce neurotoxicity in rodents

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Abstract

2C (2C-x) is the general name for the family of phenethylamines containing two methoxy groups at the 2 and 5 positions of the benzene ring. The abuse of 2C family drugs has grown rapidly, although the abuse potential and neurotoxic properties of 2C drugs have not yet been fully investigated. In this study, we investigated the abuse potential and neurotoxicity of 4-chloro-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-C) and 2,5-dimethoxy-4-propylphenethylamine (2C-P). We found that 2C-C and 2C-P produced conditioned place preference in a dose-dependent manner in mice, and increased self-administration in rats, suggesting that 2C-C and 2C-P have abuse potential. To investigate the neurotoxicity of 2C-C and 2C-P, we examined motor performance and memory impairment after high doses of 2C-C and 2C-P. High doses of 2C-C and 2C-P decreased locomotor activity, rota-rod performance, and lower Y-maze test, novel objective recognition test, and passive avoidance test scores. We also observed that 2C-C and 2C-P affected expression levels of the D1 dopamine receptor, D2 dopamine receptor, dopamine transporter, and phospho-dopamine transporter in the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex, and increased c-Fos immuno-positive cells in the nucleus accumbens. Moreover, high doses of 2C-C and 2C-P induced microglial activation, which is involved in the inflammatory reaction in the striatum. These results suggest that 2C-C and 2C-P have abuse potential by affecting dopaminergic signaling and induce neurotoxicity via initiating neuroinflammation at high doses.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (14182MFDS979 and 19182MFDS403) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (2020R1F1A1072302).

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Young-Jung Kim, Shi-Xun Ma and Kwang-Hyun Hur contributed equally to this work.

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Correspondence to Choon-Gon Jang.

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Kim, YJ., Ma, SX., Hur, KH. et al. New designer phenethylamines 2C-C and 2C-P have abuse potential and induce neurotoxicity in rodents. Arch Toxicol 95, 1413–1429 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-021-02980-x

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Keywords

  • 2C-C
  • 2C-P
  • Abuse potential
  • Neurotoxicity