The alkaloid (–)-cathinone, which accounts for the stimulating properties of khat leaves, has a pharmacological profile closely resembling that of (+)-amphetamine. Since amphetamine is known to induce release at CNS serotonin storage sites, experiments were performed to determine whether (–)-cathinone also displays this aspect of amphetamine action. When the effects of (–)-cathinone and (+)-amphetamine on the release of radioactivity from rat striatal tissue prelabelled with 3H-serotonin were compared, it was found that (–)-cathinone had a releasing effect similar to that of (+)-amphetamine, although it was only one third as potent. Thus, the khat alkaloid (–)-cathinone appears to share an important effect of (+)-amphetamine on serotoninergic neurotransmission.

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