Effects of carbamazepine on self-administration of intravenously delivered cocaine in rats

Marilyn E. Carroll, Sylvie T. Lac, Marisel Asencio, James A. Halikas, Rebecca Kragh

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19 Scopus citations


Carbamazepine (Tegretol) is widely used therapeutically as an anticonvulsant. Based on an hypothesis that links electrical kindling in the limbic system (leading to seizures) to reverse tolerance or sensitivity to cocaine's effects, carbamazpine is being tested as a treatment for human cocaine users. The purpose of this experiment was to examine the effects of carbamazepine on intravenous cocaine self-administration in rats. Rats self-administered intravenously delivered cocaine (0.2 mg/kg) under a fixed-ratio 4 schedule. When cocaine injections reached stable levels, carbamazepine was mixed with the rats' food for 8 days. Three doses of carbamazepine were tested (80, 120, and 160 mg/kg) in different groups of 5 rats each. The rats were later separated into groups with a high (>750 infusions) and a low (500-750 infusions) cocaine baseline. Two control groups of 5 rats each received carbamazepine treatments (120 or 160 mg/kg) and self-administered an orally delivered solution of glucose and saccharin (G+S). At the highest carbamazepine dose in the high cocaine baseline group, carbamazepine reduced cocaine infusions by at least 50 percent and food intake by approximately 25 percent during the 8 days of treatment. Cocaine infusions returned to baseline within 24 hr after the regular diet was restored. Carbamazepine had a minimal effect in groups of rats with lower cocaine baselines. Responding reinforced by the G+S solution was reduced by both the 120 and 160 mg/kg carbamazepine doses. Water intake was not systematically affected by the addition of carbamazepine to the food; however, activity measures were significantly lower in some groups at the higher carbamazepine doses. The results of this experiment indicate that the combination of a high dose of carbamazepine combined with a high rate of cocaine self-administration not only reduced cocaine intake, but it resulted in convulsions and death in some animals. These data suggest that carbamazepine is not likely to be the drug of choice for cocaine abuse treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-556
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1990


  • Carbamazepine
  • Cocaine
  • Glucose and saccharin
  • Intravenous
  • Rats
  • Self-administration
  • Taste aversion
  • Tegretol


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