, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 179–185 | Cite as

Serotonergic mechanisms of cocaine effects in humans

  • Sarah C. Aronson
  • Jed E. Black
  • Christopher J. McDougle
  • B. Ellen Scanley
  • George R. Heninger
  • Lawrence H. Price
  • Peter Jatlow
  • Thomas R. Kosten
Original Investigation


The objective of this study was to investigate the role of serotonin (5-HT) in mediating the effects of cocaine in humans. To accomplish this, 12 subjects each participated in two randomized, double-blind test sessions separated by 1 week. In one session, subjects underwent acute depletion of the 5-HT amino acid precursor tryptophan (TRP), followed by a test dose of intranasal cocaine. In the other session, the cocaine test dose was preceded by sham depletion. Subject ratings of cocaine “high” were significantly lower following active TRP depletion than after the sham procedure. Subjects also showed an earlier but less sustained rise in self-rated nervousness during active TRP depletion. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that 5-HT may be involved in mediating the euphorigenic and modulating the anxiogenic effects of cocaine in humans, either directly or through actions on other (e.g., dopaminergic) systems.

Key words

Cocaine Serotonin Tryptophan 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah C. Aronson
    • 1
  • Jed E. Black
    • 1
  • Christopher J. McDougle
    • 1
  • B. Ellen Scanley
    • 1
  • George R. Heninger
    • 1
  • Lawrence H. Price
    • 1
  • Peter Jatlow
    • 2
    • 3
  • Thomas R. Kosten
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities, Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Laboratory MedicineYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Substance Abuse Treatment UnitConnecticut Mental Health CenterNew HavenUSA

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