, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 341-352
Date: 23 Nov 2000

Contribution of the active metabolite, norcocaine, to cocaine's effects after intravenous and oral administration in rats: pharmacodynamics

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Rationale: Oral cocaine is more effective than IV cocaine by pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic analysis. One explanation is involvement of the active metabolite, norcocaine, in cocaine's effects. Objectives: To evaluate norcocaine's contribution to oral cocaine's effects, norcocaine's effects as a parent compound were determined and compared to those of cocaine using a differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL 45-s) schedule and spontaneous activity (large and small movements) after IV and PO routes of administration. Methods: The effects of cocaine and norcocaine on DRL performance (shorter-response and reinforcement rates) and spontaneous activity were investigated in 3-h sessions. The changes in effects across time (effect-time profiles) and dose-response curves (DRCs) were constructed to evaluate the duration of action and potency (ED50) of both drugs. Results: Under the DRL 45-s schedule, effect-time profiles showed both drugs via the two routes of administration significantly increasing and decreasing shorter-response rates and reinforcement rates, respectively. However, cocaine produced greater effects on shorter-response rates than norcocaine, while both drugs produced comparable effects on reinforcement rates. For spontaneous activity, although IV cocaine, PO cocaine, and PO norcocaine dose- and time-dependently increased spontaneous activity, cocaine's effects were more profound than those of norcocaine. Effect-time profiles revealed that the duration of drug action was a function of dose, route, and behavioral paradigm used. According to ED50 values, IV cocaine was more effective than PO cocaine; however, PO cocaine was more effective than IV cocaine as judged by ED50 values corrected for absolute oral bioavailability. Conclusions: Norcocaine's contribution to oral cocaine's effects on DRL performance is evident. Other mechanism(s), such as a greater acute tolerance to IV cocaine's effects than to PO cocaine's effects, can be excluded.