Effects of pharmacologic dopamine β-hydroxylase inhibition on cocaine-induced reinstatement and dopamine neurochemistry in squirrel monkeys

Debra A. Cooper, Heather L. Kimmel, Daniel F. Manvich, Karl T. Schmidt, David Weinshenker, Leonard L. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Disulfiram has shown promise as a pharmacotherapy for cocaine dependence in clinical settings, although it has many targets, and the behavioral and molecular mechanisms underlying its efficacy are unclear. One of many biochemical actions of disulfiram is inhibition of dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH), the enzyme that converts dopamine (DA) to norepinephrine (NE) in noradrenergic neurons. Thus, disulfiram simultaneously reduces NE and elevates DA tissue levels in the brain. In rats, both disulfiram and the selective DBH inhibitor nepicastat block cocaine-primed reinstatement, a paradigm which is thought to model some aspects of drug relapse. This is consistent with some clinical results and supports the use of DBH inhibitors for the treatment of cocaine dependence. The present study was conducted to confirm and extend these results in nonhuman primates. Squirrel monkeys trained to self-administer cocaine were pretreated with disulfiram or nepicastat prior to cocaineinduced reinstatement sessions. Neither DBH inhibitor altered cocaine-induced reinstatement. Unexpectedly, nepicastat administered alone induced a modest reinstatement effect in squirrel monkeys, but not in rats. To investigate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the behavioral results, the effects of DBH inhibition on extracellular DA were analyzed in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) using in vivo microdialysis in squirrel monkeys. Both DBH inhibitors attenuated cocaine-induced DA overflow in the NAc. Hence, the attenuation of cocaine-induced changes in accumbal DA neurochemistry was not associated with altered cocaine-seeking behavior. Overall, the reported behavioral effects of DBH inhibition in rodent models of relapse did not extend to nonhuman primates under the conditions used in the current studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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