Cocaine toxicity is a widespread problem in the United States, responsible for more than 500,000 emergency department visits a year. There is currently no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmacotherapy to directly treat cocaine toxicity. To this end, we have developed a mutant bacterial cocaine esterase (DM-CocE), which has been previously shown to rapidly hydrolyze cocaine into inert metabolites, preventing and reversing toxicity with limited immunogenic potential. Herein we describe the ability of DM-CocE to hydrolyze the active cocaine metabolites norcocaine and cocaethylene and its inability to hydrolyze benzoylecgonine. DM-CocE hydrolyzes norcocaine and cocaethylene with 58 and 45% of its catalytic efficiency for cocaine in vitro as measured by a spectrophotometric assay. We have developed a mass spectrometry method to simultaneously detect cocaine, benzoylecgonine, norcocaine, and ecgonine methyl ester to quantify the effect of DM-CocE on normal cocaine metabolism in vivo. DM-CocE administered to rats 10 min after a convulsant dose of cocaine alters the normal metabolism of cocaine, rapidly decreasing circulating levels of cocaine and norcocaine while increasing ecgonine methyl ester formation. Benzoylecgonine was not hydrolyzed in vivo, but circulating concentrations were reduced, suggesting that DM-CocE may bind and sequester this metabolite. These findings suggest that DM-CocE may reduce cocaine toxicity by eliminating active and toxic metabolites along with the parent cocaine molecule.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine