Psychopharmacology

, Volume 146, Issue 1, pp 87–92 | Cite as

Rapid induction of behavioral and neurochemical tolerance to cocaethylene, a model compound for agonist therapy of cocaine dependence

  • C. W. Bradberry
  • Tobias Lee
  • Peter Jatlow
Original Investigation

Abstract 

Rationale: Tolerance to abused drugs may impact on patterns of abuse, and in the case of agonist therapies, may be beneficial in that it reduces the reward value of a given dose of abused drug. Cocaethylene, a psychoactive metabolite resulting from concurrent alcohol and cocaine consumption, was examined because of its use in human research studies of drug reward mechanisms, and its potential as a model compound for an agonist based therapy for cocaine dependence. Objective: Comparisons were made between cocaine and cocaethylene in the acute development of tolerance to the neurochemical and behavioral effects of cocaine. With chronic exposure, tolerance to the behavioral effects of cocaine was examined. Methods: In awake rats with a microdialysis probe in the nucleus accumbens and a jugular catheter, an IV bolus/3-h infusion of cocaine or cocaethylene and a subsequent cocaine challenge was administered while extracellular dopamine and locomotion were monitored. Chronic IV treatment with cocaine, cocaethylene, and a water control was accomplished for 7 days using osmotic minipumps attached to jugular catheters. Animals were then challenged with an IV bolus of cocaine. Results: With acute treatment, the IV bolus of cocaethylene at the beginning of the infusion period resulted in an initial behavioral activation equivalent to that caused by cocaine, after which there was a striking difference in that the cocaethylene group displayed a return to predrug levels of activity, while the cocaine group showed high levels of activity throughout the 3-h period. Both cocaethylene and cocaine resulted in an initial increase in the extracellular concentration of dopamine. However, after that initial increase, levels of dopamine dropped in the cocaethylene group while the cocaine group levels remained elevated. A 1-week infusion of cocaine or cocaethylene resulted in tolerance to the behavioral activating effects of a subsequent cocaine challenge. Conclusions: These results demonstrate a rapid induction of tolerance to the behavioral and neurochemical properties of cocaethylene, resulting in a diminished behavioral response to a cocaine challenge both acutely, and after 7 days. The relevance of these data for the use of cocaethylene as a model compound for an agonist approach to therapy for cocaine dependence is discussed.

Key words Cocaine Dependence Cocaethylene Agonist therapy Dopamine Serotonin Norepinephrine 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. W. Bradberry
    • 1
  • Tobias Lee
    • 1
  • Peter Jatlow
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and Laboratory Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine and the West Haven, CT Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Box 116A2, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516, USA, Fax: +1-203-937-3897US

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