The effects of benzofury (5-APB) on the dopamine transporter and 5-HT2-dependent vasoconstriction in the rat

Dawson, Patrick, Opacka-Juffry, Jolanta, Moffatt, James, Daniju, Jusuf, Dutta, Neelashki, Ramsay, John and Davidson, Colin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8180-7943 (2014) The effects of benzofury (5-APB) on the dopamine transporter and 5-HT2-dependent vasoconstriction in the rat. Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 48 . pp. 57-63. ISSN 0278-5846

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5-APB, commonly marketed as ‘benzofury’ is a new psychoactive substance and erstwhile ‘legal high’ which has been implicated in 10 recent drug-related deaths in the UK. This drug was available on the internet and in ‘head shops’ and was one of the most commonly sold legal highs up until its recent UK temporary ban (UK Home Office). Despite its prominence, very little is known about its pharmacology. This study was undertaken to examine the pharmacology of 5-APB in vitro. We hypothesized that 5-APB would activate the dopamine and 5-HT systems which may underlie its putative stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Autoradiographic studies showed that 5-APB displaced both [125I]RTI-121 and [3H]ketanserin
from rat brain tissue suggesting affinity at the dopamine transporter and 5-HT2 receptor sites respectively. Voltammetric studies in rat accumbens brain slices revealed that 5-APB slowed dopamine reuptake, and at high concentrations caused reverse transport of dopamine. 5-APB also caused vasoconstriction of rat aorta, an effect antagonized by the 5-HT2A receptor antagonist ketanserin, and caused contraction of rat stomach fundus, which was reversed by the 5-HT2B receptor antagonist RS-127445. These data show that 5-APB interacts with the dopamine transporter and is an agonist at the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B receptors in the rat. Thus 5-APB’s pharmacology is consistent with it having both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. In addition, 5-APB’s activity at the 5-HT2B receptor may cause cardiotoxicity.

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