, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp 307–311 | Cite as

Cocaine toxicity: genetic evidence suggests different mechanisms for cocaine-induced seizures and lethality

  • Frank R. George
Original Investigations


While low doses of cocaine have been shown to decrease locomotor activity, and moderate doses produce marked increases in locomotor activity, high doses commonly produce seizures and, eventually, death. However, the biological mechanisms associated with cocaine-related death, as well as the contribution of seizure activity to death, are poorly understood. This study examined the effects of a broad range of cocaine doses on acute occurrence of seizures and death in LS/Ibg (LS) and SS/Ibg (SS) mice. Large differences in sensitivity to cocaine-induced seizures were seen, with ED50 values being 41.7 and 80.9 mg/kg for the SS and LS mice, respectively. Conversely, no significant differences in cocaine LD50 values were found, being 100.7 and 107.2 mg/kg for the SS and LS mice, respectively. That these lines of mice differ substantially in convulsant responses to cocaine, but show no difference in lethal response to this drug, supports the conclusion that cocaine causes death by mechanisms distinct from those which contribute to seizures. The distinction between cocaine-induced seizures and lethality in these lines may prove useful in elucidating the underlying mechanisms of these traits. In a subsequent study, the incidence of seizures in F1 and F2 generation mice from hybrid matings of LS and SS parents was not consistent with a single gene hypothesis, suggesting that multiple genes and receptors mediate seizurgenic responses to cocaine. Further, albino mice from the F2 generation did not show a significantly different incidence of seizures than non-albino mice, indicating that of the genes contributing to seizures following cocaine, none appear to be closely associated with the albino locus on mouse chromosome seven.

Key words

Behavior genetics Long Sleep and Short Sleep mice Toxicity Seizures Death Cocaine 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank R. George
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of PharmacyUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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