Ethanol enhances immunosuppression induced by cocaine.

S. V. Pirozhkov, R. R. Watson, G. J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Use of cocaine concurrently with alcohol is prevalent among cocaine addicts. Cocaine has been shown previously to inhibit phytohemagglutinin- and ConA-induced proliferation of T-lymphocytes, NK cell cytotoxicity and phagocytic activity of peritoneal macrophages. We compared the immunotoxic effect of cocaine, combination of cocaine with ethanol, or cocaethylene, a derivative formed from cocaine and ethanol in the body, on the mitogen-stimulated production of cytokines by splenocytes. C57B1 mice were injected twice daily with 20 mg/kg cocaine or equivalent dose of cocaethylene and received a liquid Lieber-DeCarli diet containing ethanol (26% of total calories) or isocaloric amount of maltose-dextrin. After 4 weeks of treatment cocaine and cocaethylene caused a significant decrease of the spleen weight and total number of splenocytes. In splenocytes isolated from the cocaine- or cocaethylene-treated mice mitogen-stimulated production of gamma-interferon, tumor necrosis factor, and interleukin-2 was suppressed, in all cases more severely when cocaethylene was used. Thus formation of cocaethylene during simultaneous consumption of cocaine and ethanol may enhance the immunotoxicity of cocaine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalAlcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire). Supplement.
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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