Psychopharmacology

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 41–58

Serotonergic mechanisms involved in the discriminative stimulus, reinforcing and subjective effects of cocaine

Authors

  • Sharon L. Walsh
    • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224-6823, USA
  • K. A. Cunningham
    • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1031, USA
REVIEW

DOI: 10.1007/s002130050210

Cite this article as:
Walsh, S. & Cunningham, K. Psychopharmacology (1997) 130: 41. doi:10.1007/s002130050210

Abstract

 The purpose of the present manuscript is to review the current status of the role of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) systems in the stimulus and reinforcing properties of cocaine in non-humans and the subjective effects of cocaine in humans. Review of the current literature suggests that general enhancement (via precursor administration) or depletion of brain 5-HT content (via neurotoxin administration or tryptophan depletion) impact the reinforcing effects of cocaine in non-humans and its subjective effects in humans. Selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) enhance the discriminability of cocaine and decrease cocaine self-administration in animals, although data to the contrary also exist. Studies in humans suggest that SSRIs attenuate the subjective effects of cocaine in humans. Although few drugs with selectivity for 5-HT2 receptors have been studied systematically, a 5-HT2 agonist and several antagonists show some efficacy in enhancing and reducing, respectively, the reinforcing effects of cocaine in non-humans. Limited data from humans suggest that a 5-HT2 antagonist may also decrease the subjective effects of cocaine; thus, 5-HT2 compounds deserve further attention. The majority of studies evaluating the 5-HT3 antagonists have reported negative results across all paradigms. In summary, while the functional significance of 5-HT receptors has not been fully elucidated, these data suggest that changes in serotonergic activity can modulate the effects of cocaine in both animals and humans under a variety of experimental conditions. One commonality among the studies with positive findings is that cocaine effects are only partially modified by 5-HT agents regardless of the direction of change.

Key words CocaineDrug discriminationDopamine (DA)HumanRatReuptake inhibitorReinforcing effectsSelf-administrationSerotonin (5-HT)5-HT1A5-HT25-HT3Subjective effectsStimulus effects
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997