Serotonergic attenuation of the reinforcing and neurochemical effects of cocaine in squirrel monkeys

Paul W. Czoty, Brett C. Ginsburg, Leonard L. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Preclinical studies have documented that serotonin (5-HT) can modulate the behavioral effects of cocaine. The present study examined the ability of 5-HT to attenuate the reinforcing and neurochemical effects of cocaine in nonhuman primates. In squirrel monkeys trained to self-administer cocaine (0.1 and 0.3 mg/injection) under a second-order schedule of i.v. drug delivery, the 5-HT uptake inhibitor alaproclate (3.0 and 10.0 mg/kg) and the 5-HT direct agonist quipazine (0.3-1.0 mg/kg) decreased response rates at doses that had no significant effect on behavior maintained by an identical schedule of stimulus termination. The neurochemical bases of the observed drug interactions on behavior were investigated further using in vivo microdialysis techniques in a separate group of awake monkeys to monitor drug-induced changes in extracellular dopamine (DA). Cocaine (1.0 mg/kg) elevated the concentration of DA in the caudate nucleus to approximately 300% of basal levels. Pretreatment with alaproclate or quipazine attenuated cocaine-induced increases in extracellular DA at the same pretreatment doses that decreased cocaine self-administration. The results obtained suggest that increasing brain 5-HT activity can attenuate the reinforcing effects of cocaine, ostensibly by decreasing the ability of cocaine to elevate extracellular DA in brain areas that mediate the behavioral effects. These findings extend those reported previously for the behavioral-stimulant effects of cocaine and identify a potential neurochemical mechanism underlying drug interactions on behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-837
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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