Inhaled drugs of abuse enhance serotonin-3 receptor function

Gregory F. Lopreato, Rachel Phelan, Cecilia M. Borghese, Michael J. Beckstead, S. John Mihic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Despite the prevalence of their use, little is currently known of the molecular mechanisms of action of inhaled drugs of abuse. Recent studies have shown effects on NMDA, GABAA and glycine receptors in vitro, suggesting that inhalants may exert at least some of their pharmacological effects on ligand-gated ion channels. Enhancement of serotonin-3 receptor function has been shown to play a role in the reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse. We tested the hypothesis that the commonly abused inhaled agents 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and toluene enhance serotonin-3 receptor function. All three inhalants significantly and reversibly potentiated, in a dose-dependent manner, serotonin-activated currents mediated by mouse serotonin-3A receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Our findings add the serotonin-3 receptor to the growing list of molecular targets commonly affected by both inhalants and classic CNS depressants such as ethanol and the volatile anesthetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-15
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrophysiology
  • Inhalants
  • Serotonin-3 receptor
  • Xenopus oocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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