Study on the effects active ingredient (cathinone) in khat also known as miraa
The principal active components in khat are cathinone and cathine which are alkaloids that are structurally related to amphetamine. The pharmacological effects of cathinone are qualitatively similar to those of amphetamine, although it is less potent. These compounds act on dopaminergic , narodrenergic and serotonergic neurotransmitter systems to produce a range of physical and psychiatric affects that are quantitatively similar to the effects of other psychostimulant. The aim of this study will be to establish, a profile of behavioural alterations and also monitoring hormonal changes resulting from short- and long-term exposure to cathinone in presence and/or absence of cage enrichment over a period of 6 months. A total of 15 adult vervet monkeys (eight males and four females) will be used. They will be randomly divided into three groups. The study will be carried out in two phases: Pre-treatment period will take about 2 months. However, the first month will serve to habituate the animals to the presence of the observer as well as handling while during the second month of pre-treatment phase, blood sampling together with individual behavioral observations will be done. Treatment phase-Control animals will be administered 10 ml normal saline (0.9 % sodium chloride) via oral gavages three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) for 4 months. Expected results: The behavior during the pre-treatment period will be different compared to the treatment period. The animals are expected to be more aggressive and also show withdrawal symptoms. The hormone levels of cortisol will show different levels in the two phases. The study will show that cathinone usually alters hormonal levels depending on the dosage and this results to alterations in the behavior of the khat chewers. In extent it can be linked to some psychotic behavior.