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Individual and combined effects of ethanol and cocaine on intracellular signals and gene expression.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo, USA.


1. Ethanol and cocaine are drugs of abuse that can produce long-lived changes in behavior, including dependence. 2. A common set of neural pathways appears to mediate the addictive actions of ethanol and cocaine. 3. Many prominent aspects of drug dependence may be the result of alterations in intracellular signals as well as specific patterns of gene expression. 4. For instance, changes in G proteins and cAMP, phosphorylation of proteins and induction of c-fos and zif/268 in specific drug-sensitive brain regions may represent adaptive changes in response to a drug-dependent state. 5. The concurrent use of ethanol and cocaine is the most prevalent pattern of drug abuse in humans. However, the number of studies investigating the behavioral and molecular effects of this combination are few. 6. Emerging evidence indicates a possible antagonistic effect of ethanol and cocaine action on transcription factor function. In addition, cocaethylene (a psychoactive metabolite derived from combined ethanol and cocaine exposure) has significant effects on gene expression as well.

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