Discriminative Stimulus Effects of Binary Drug Mixtures: Studies with Cocaine, MDPV, and Caffeine

Gregory T. Collins, Megan Abbott, Kayla Galindo, Elise L. Rush, Kenner C. Rice, Charles P. France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Illicit drug preparations often include more than one pharmacologically active compound. For example, cocaine and synthetic cathinones [e.g., 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)] are often mixed with caffeine before sale. Caffeine is likely added to these preparations because it is inexpensive and legal; however, caffeine might also mimic or enhance some of the effects of cocaine or MDPV. In these studies, male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to discriminate 10 mg/kg cocaine from saline, and the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine, caffeine, and MDPV were evaluated alone and as binary mixtures (cocaine and caffeine, MDPV and caffeine, and cocaine and MDPV) at fixeddose ratios of 3:1, 1:1, and 1:3 relative to the dose of each drug that produced 50% cocaine-appropriate responding. Doseaddition analyses were used to determine the nature of the drug-drug interactions for each mixture (e.g., additive, supraadditive, or subadditive). Although additive interactions were observed for most mixtures, supra-additive interactions were observed at the 50% effect level for the 1:1 mixture of cocaine and caffeine and at the 80% effect level for all three mixtures of cocaine and caffeine, as well as for the 3:1 and 1:3 mixtures of cocaine and MDPV. These results demonstrate that with respect to cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects, caffeine can function as a substitute in drug preparations containing either cocaine or MDPV, with enhancements of cocaine-like effects possible under certain conditions. Further research is needed to determine whether similar interactions exist for other abuserelated or toxic effects of drug preparations, including cocaine, synthetic cathinones, and caffeine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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