Cardiovascular Toxicology

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 141–151 | Cite as

Cocaine, not morphine, causes the generation of reactive oxygen species and activation of NF-κB in transiently cotransfected heart cells

  • Barbara Y. Hargrave
  • David A. Tiangco
  • Frank A. Lattanzio
  • Stephen J. Beebe


This study was designed to determine levels of NF-κB reporter gene activity and free radical generation in cultured striated myocytes (H9C2 cells) exposed to cocaine or morphine in the presence of free radical scavengers. Cells were transiently transfected with a NF-κB reporter gene and changes in luciferase activity were detected, by bioluminescence. Using confocal microscopy and 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescin diacetate, cocaine-induced or morphine-induced free radicals were quantified in H9C2 cells. Cocaine and morphine (0–1×10−2 M) were tested separately. Cocaine but not morphine significantly activated Nf-κB reporter gene, activity in H9C2 cells. Overexpression of IκB inhibited NF-κB reporter activity at low (1×10−4 M) but not high (1×10−2 M) cocaine concentrations. Free radicals were generated in H9C2 cells stimulated with cocaine but not with morphine. The production of free radicals and NF-κB reporter gene activity could be blocked with N-acetylcysteine, glutathione, and to a lesser extent, lipoic acid. The results suggest that cocaine induces free radical production, which leads to the activation of NF-κB signal transduction and possible inflammatory responses.

Key words

NF-κB cocaine morphine free radicals 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Y. Hargrave
    • 1
  • David A. Tiangco
    • 1
  • Frank A. Lattanzio
    • 2
  • Stephen J. Beebe
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolk
  2. 2.Department of Physiological SciencesEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolk
  3. 3.Center for Pediatric ResearchEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolk

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