Ethanol modulates cocaine-induced behavioral change in inbred mice


We recently conducted a study of the behavioral effects of combined cocaine and ethanol in genetically defined mice. Male and female C57BL/6 (B6) and DBA/2 (D2) were tested in an automated activity monitor on 2 consecutive days. On day 1, all animals received an IP injection of sterile saline and were placed into the activity monitor for 30 min. Behaviors measured were total distance traveled, stereotypy, nosepokes, and wall-seeking. On day 2, all animals were tested again for 15 min following injection of one of the following: saline, 10% v/v ethanol at 2.0 g kg-1 or 2.0 g kg-1 ethanol plus 5, 15, or 30 mg kg-1 cocaine. Cocaine alone at the same doses was injected into separate groups of animals. For the B6 strain, the overall effect of ethanol was to reduce cocaine-induced locomotor stimulation; no consistent effect of ethanol on cocaine-induced locomotion was observed in D2 mice. Cocaine-induced inhibition of nosepokes in both strains and sexes was partially reversed by ethanol. Ethanol also partially reversed cocaine- elevated stereotypy in both strains and both sexes. In B6 mice, cocaine- increased wall seeking tended to be reversed by coadministration of ethanol, whereas no consistent pattern was observed in the D2s. Results from this study suggest that the several measures affected by cocaine (locomotor activity, stereotypy, exploration, thigmotaxis) were, in turn, differentially affected by concurrent treatment with ethanol. Furthermore, our results point to genetic-based differences in ethanol's effects on cocaine-related behaviors. We address the implications for combined ethanol and cocaine use in humans.

Publication Title

Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior