Dextromethorphan reduces intravenous cocaine self-administration in the rat

Luigi Pulvirenti, Claudia Balducci, George F. Koob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dextromethorphan is a widely used antitussive agent with non-competitive antagonistic effects at the excitatory amino acid receptors of the NMDA type. Since excitatory amino acid neurotransmission has been implicated in cocaine dependence, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of acute systemic administration of dextrometharphan in rats trained to self-administer cocaine intravenously. The experiments were designed to evaluate the effects of dextromethorphan on responding for cocaine and cocaine reward magnitude. The hypothesis was that dextromethorphan could attenuate specific aspects of cocaine-seeking behavior thus providing a preclinical rationale for its clinical use. The results reported reveal that acute pretreatment with dextromethorphan (10-50 mg/kg i.p.) significantly reduced cocaine self-administration in rats self-administering the drug intravenously in a simple continuous reinforcement schedule. In addition, acute pretreatment with an effective dose of dextromethorphan (25 mg/kg) decreased cocaine self-administration in rats tested at various doses of cocaine (0.12-0.5 mg/injection). Finally, dextromethorphan (25 mg/kg) also reduced the absolute reward magnitude of cocaine as measured by responding for cocaine in a progressive ratio schedule. These results encourage further experimental and clinical studies to evaluate the potential use of dextromethorphan during various phases of the natural history of cocaine dependence in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-283
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 5 1997


  • Cocaine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • NMDA receptor antagonist
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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