Cocaethylene formation in rat, dog, and human hepatic microsomes

Life Sci. 1999;64(23):2101-8. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(99)00159-9.


The dog and rat are important animal models for studying the role of cocaethylene in the pharmacodynamic interaction between cocaine and ethanol. In a previous study in our laboratory it was found that a cocaine dose of 3 mg/kg IV and ethanol 1 g/kg IV failed to produce detectable concentrations of cocaethylene in the plasma of dogs. In follow up to this result, the pharmacokinetic disposition of cocaine and cocaethylene in the dog were determined to be similar. These results suggested significant differences between animal and human cocaethylene formation may occur. To test this possibility the in vitro formation of cocaethylene was determined in rat, dog and human hepatic microsomal preparations containing cocaine (0-7 mM) and ethanol (50 mM). Nonlinear least-squares regression was used to estimate Km and Vmax and the results were compared statistically. The mean +/- standard deviation for Km and Vmax in the rat, dog and human were 0.53 +/- 0.04, 0.97 +/- 0.07, and 0.56 +/- 0.08 mM, and 390 +/- 9, 233 +/- 6, and 60 +/- 3 pmol/minute/mg protein, respectively. The Km in the dog was significantly greater (p<0.05) than the Km in the rat and human. The Vmax was statistically different among all three species (rat>dog>human; p<0.05). These results demonstrate that cocaethylene formation is greater in dog than human hepatic microsomes, which is in contrast to in vivo studies that appear to show that humans produce more cocaethylene than dogs. It is suggested by the authors that route of cocaine administration may be an important factor in the formation of cocaethylene when cocaine and ethanol are co-administered.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cocaine / biosynthesis
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects*
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Ethanol
  • benzoylecgonine
  • cocaethylene
  • Cocaine