Contribution of the active metabolite, norcocaine, to cocaine's effects after intravenous and oral administration in rats: pharmacodynamics
Wang Q, Simpao A, Sun L, Falk JL, Lau CE.
Department of Psychology,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,
Piscataway 08854-8020, USA.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001 Jan; 153(3):341-52


RATIONALE: Oral cocaine is more effective than IV cocaine by pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic analysis. One explanation is involvement of the active metabolite, norcocaine, in cocaine's effects. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate norcocaine's contribution to oral cocaine's effects, norcocaine's effects as a parent compound were determined and compared to those of cocaine using a differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL 45-s) schedule and spontaneous activity (large and small movements) after IV and PO routes of administration. METHODS: The effects of cocaine and norcocaine on DRL performance (shorter-response and reinforcement rates) and spontaneous activity were investigated in 3-h sessions. The changes in effects across time (effect-time profiles) and dose-response curves (DRCs) were constructed to evaluate the duration of action and potency (ED50) of both drugs. RESULTS: Under the DRL 45-s schedule, effect-time profiles showed both drugs via the two routes of administration significantly increasing and decreasing shorter-response rates and reinforcement rates, respectively. However, cocaine produced greater effects on shorterresponse rates than norcocaine, while both drugs produced comparable effects on reinforcement rates. For spontaneous activity, although IV cocaine, PO cocaine, and PO norcocaine dose- and time-dependently increased spontaneous activity, cocaine's effects were more profound than those of norcocaine. Effect-time profiles revealed that the duration of drug action was a function of dose, route, and behavioral paradigm used. According to ED50 values, IV cocaine was more effective than PO cocaine; however, PO cocaine was more effective than IV cocaine as judged by ED50 values corrected for absolute oral bioavailability. CONCLUSIONS: Norcocaine's contribution to oral cocaine's effects on DRL performance is evident. Other mechanism(s), such as a greater acute tolerance to IV cocaine's effects than to PO cocaine's effects, can be excluded.

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