Behavioral and neurochemical changes caused by repeated ethanol and cocaine administration
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Combined cocaine and ethanol abuse has become increasingly popular, yet research on the behavioral and neurochemical interactions of these two substances is limited. Four groups of male rats received either daily cocaine (10 mg/kg, IP) or saline injections with either water (groups C and S) or only 15% ethanol to drink (groups CE and E). Initially, locomotor activity was increased equally by ethanol or cocaine and to the greatest extent by both. After 2 weeks of drug treatment, group C exhibited behavioral sensitization to cocaine, group E exhibited ethanol tolerance and group CE exhibited greater cocaine sensitization with no indication of ethanol tolerance. In support of enhanced sensitization to cocaine, amphetamine-stimulated3H-dopamine (DA) release in striatum and D2 DA receptor binding in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) were increased in group CE compared to group C. In support of a loss of ethanol tolerance, increases in striatal D2 DA and35S-TBPS binding seen in group E (which exhibited ethanol tolerance) were absent in group CE (which did not exhibit tolerance). Thus, the synergistic effect of ethanol and cocaine on behavior may be due to complex interactions of these two drugs both on DA and GABA transmission in mesolimbic and nigrostriatal areas.
Key wordsCocaine sensitization Ethanol tolerance Dopamine GABA Nigrostriatal
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