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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996 Oct;55(2):237-48.

Generation of stable test atmospheres of cocaine base and its pyrolyzate, methylecgonidine, and demonstration of their biological activity.

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  • 1Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine, NYU Medical Center, Tuxedo 10987, USA.


Generating controlled test atmospheres of known chemical identity and airborne concentration upon demand is a significant technical obstacle that limits the scope and repeatability of studies of inhaled substances. We addressed this problem as applied to the generation of atmospheres that result from heating crack cocaine, which include both cocaine and its pyrolyzate methylecgonidine (MEG). A condensation aerosol generator was used to generate atmospheres comprised of monodisperse particles of cocaine, MEG, or mixtures of both that are of submicron size suitable for deposition in the alveolar region of primates. Compressed air seeded with nanometer-size sodium chloride particles was passed through a constant depth of molten cocaine or MEG in a bead bed, reheated, and condensed to an aerosol within an annulus of cold air. To achieve control of a mixture of both compounds, MEG was condensed onto cocaine particles in a separate coating step. On-line analytical instruments provided verification of airborne concentration, estimates of particle size, and dispersion as well as chemical identity. Specific airway conductance (SGaw), heart rate, and rectal and skin temperatures were measured in squirrel monkeys breathing atmospheres containing condensation aerosols of cocaine or MEG free base. SGaw was reduced after inhalation of either base, and both induced temperature and cardiovascular changes, demonstrating that the aerosols so generated had biological activity.

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