Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 42–50 | Cite as

In Vitro Effects of Cocaine on Tunneling Nanotube Formation and Extracellular Vesicle Release in Glioblastoma Cell Cultures

  • Chiara Carone
  • Susanna Genedani
  • Giuseppina Leo
  • Monica Filaferro
  • Kjell Fuxe
  • Luigi Francesco Agnati


The effects of cocaine (150 nM, 300 nM, and 150 μM) on human glioblastoma cell cultures were studied on tunneling nanotube formation (1-h cocaine treatment) and extracellular vesicle release (1-, 3-, and 8-h cocaine treatment). Cocaine significantly increased the number of tunneling nanotubes only at the lowest concentration used. The release of extracellular vesicles (mainly exosomes) into the medium was stimulated by cocaine at each concentration used with a maximum effect at the highest concentration tested (150 μM). Moreover, cocaine (150 nM) significantly increased the number of vesicles with 61–80 nm diameter while at concentrations of 300 nM and 150 μM, and the smaller vesicles (30–40 nm diameter) were significantly increased with a reduction of the larger vesicles (41–60 nm diameter). A time dependence in the release of extracellular vesicles was observed. In view of the proposed role of these novel intercellular communication modes in the glial-neuronal plasticity, it seems possible that they can participate in the processes leading to cocaine addiction. The molecular target/s involved in these cocaine effects could be specific molecular components of plasma membrane lipid rafts and/or cocaine-induced modifications in cytoplasmic lipid composition.


Cocaine Glioblastoma cell culture Tunneling nanotubes Exosomes Lipid rafts 



We thank the Centro Interdipartimentale Grandi Strumenti of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and in particular Dr. M. Tonelli, for his support in the use of AFM.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Carone
    • 1
  • Susanna Genedani
    • 2
  • Giuseppina Leo
    • 3
  • Monica Filaferro
    • 3
  • Kjell Fuxe
    • 4
  • Luigi Francesco Agnati
    • 1
  1. 1.Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo/IRCCSVeniceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostic, Clinical Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical, Metabolic Sciences and NeuroscienceUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  4. 4.Department of NeuroscienceKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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