Illicit drug preparations often include more than one pharmacologically active compound. For example, cocaine and synthetic cathinones [e.g., 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)] are often mixed with caffeine before sale. Caffeine is likely added to these preparations because it is inexpensive and legal; however, caffeine might also mimic or enhance some of the effects of cocaine or MDPV. In these studies, male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to discriminate 10 mg/kg cocaine from saline, and the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine, caffeine, and MDPV were evaluated alone and as binary mixtures (cocaine and caffeine, MDPV and caffeine, and cocaine and MDPV) at fixed-dose ratios of 3:1, 1:1, and 1:3 relative to the dose of each drug that produced 50% cocaine-appropriate responding. Dose-addition analyses were used to determine the nature of the drug-drug interactions for each mixture (e.g., additive, supra-additive, or subadditive). Although additive interactions were observed for most mixtures, supra-additive interactions were observed at the 50% effect level for the 1:1 mixture of cocaine and caffeine and at the 80% effect level for all three mixtures of cocaine and caffeine, as well as for the 3:1 and 1:3 mixtures of cocaine and MDPV. These results demonstrate that with respect to cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects, caffeine can function as a substitute in drug preparations containing either cocaine or MDPV, with enhancements of cocaine-like effects possible under certain conditions. Further research is needed to determine whether similar interactions exist for other abuse-related or toxic effects of drug preparations, including cocaine, synthetic cathinones, and caffeine.
- Received April 7, 2016.
- Accepted August 1, 2016.
This work was supported, in part, by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant (R01 DA039146) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as well as the NIH Intramural Research Programs of NIDA and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). C.P.F. is supported by a Senior Scientist Award [K05 DA017918] from NIDA as well as a grant from the Welch Foundation [Grant AQ-0039].
- U.S. Government work not protected by U.S. copyright