Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Cocaine Effects

Possible Relationships with Effects of Ethanol
  • Mary C. Ritz
  • Michael J. Kuhar
  • Frank R. George
Part of the Recent Developments in Alcoholism book series (RDIA, volume 10)


Cocaine has been shown to be a highly addictive and toxic drug. It produces these effects and a variety of other physiological and behavioral effects through its interactions with several distinct central nervous system receptor sites. We present the results of a series of studies that utilized multiple site analyses to elucidate which cocaine binding sites influence the reinforcing and toxic effects of cocaine and with what proportion of influence. The nature of cocaine interactions with monoamine transporters is also discussed, especially with the dopamine transporter, which has been shown to be the cocaine binding site that is primarily associated with the reinforcing effects of cocaine. We also provide evidence that vulnerability to both the toxic and addictive effects of cocaine may be significantly influenced by genetic differences in both humans and animals. In view of the fact that cocaine is commonly abused in a polydrug situation, we present the results of both behavioral and biochemical experiments which suggest that common biochemical pathways may mediate the reinforcing or addictive properties of drugs of abuse. Finally, we discuss research on the biochemical mechanisms associated with effects of ethanol, particularly those which may also influence cocaine self-administration, and speculate on pharmacotherapeutic strategies for concurrent abuse of cocaine and ethanol.


Nucleus Accumbens Dopamine Transporter Infantile Spasm Cocaine Abuse Sigma Receptor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary C. Ritz
    • 1
  • Michael J. Kuhar
    • 2
  • Frank R. George
    • 3
  1. 1.Preclinical Pharmacology BranchNational Institute on Drug Abuse, Addiction Research CenterBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Neuroscience BranchNational Institute on Drug Abuse, Addiction Research CenterBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of PharmacyUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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