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Title: Neurotoxicity of heroin-cocaine combinations in rat cortical neurons
Authors: Cunha-Oliveira, Teresa 
Rego, A. Cristina 
Garrido, Jorge 
Borges, Fernanda 
Macedo, Tice 
Oliveira, Catarina R. 
Issue Date: 8-Mar-2012
Serial title, monograph or event: Toxicology
Volume: 276
Abstract: Cocaine and heroin are frequently co-abused by humans, in a combination known as speedball. Recently, chemical interactions between heroin (Her) or its metabolite morphine (Mor) and cocaine (Coc) were described, resulting in the formation of strong adducts. In this work, we evaluated whether combinations of Coc and Her affect the neurotoxicity of these drugs, using rat cortical neurons incubated with Coc, Her, Her followed by Coc (Her+Coc) and Her plus Coc (Her:Coc, 1:1). Neurons exposed to Her, Her+Coc and Her:Coc exhibited a decrease in cell viability, which was more pronounced in neurons exposed to Her and Her+Coc, in comparison with neurons exposed to the mixture (Her:Coc). Cells exposed to the mixture showed increased intracellular calcium and mitochondrial dysfunction, as determined by a decrease in intracellular ATP levels and in mitochondrial membrane potential, displaying both apoptotic and necrotic characteristics. Conversely, a major increase in cytochrome c release, caspase 3-dependent apoptosis, and decreased metabolic neuronal viability were observed upon sequential exposure to Her and Coc. The data show that drug combinations potentiate cortical neurotoxicity and that the mode of co-exposure changes cellular death pathways activated by the drugs, strongly suggesting that chemical interactions occurring in Her:Coc, such as adduct formation, shift cell death mechanisms towards necrosis. Since impairment of the prefrontal cortex is involved in the loss of impulse control observed in drug addicts, the data presented here may contribute to explain the increase in treatment failure observed in speedball abusers.
ISSN: 1879-3185
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CNC - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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