Selective inhibition of cocaine-seeking behaviour by a partial dopamine D3 receptor agonist

Nature. 1999 Jul 22;400(6742):371-5. doi: 10.1038/22560.


Environmental stimuli that are reliably associated with the effects of many abused drugs, especially stimulants such as cocaine, can produce craving and relapse in abstinent human substance abusers. In animals, such cues can induce and maintain drug-seeking behaviour and also reinstate drug-seeking after extinction. Reducing the motivational effects of drug-related cues might therefore be useful in the treatment of addiction. Converging pharmacological, human post-mortem and genetic studies implicate the dopamine D3 receptor in drug addiction. Here we have designed BP 897, the first D3-receptor-selective agonist, as assessed in vitro with recombinant receptors and in vivo with mice bearing disrupted D3-receptor genes. BP 897 is a partial agonist in vitro and acts in vivo as either an agonist or an antagonist. We show that BP 897 inhibits cocaine-seeking behaviour that depends upon the presentation of drug-associated cues, without having any intrinsic, primary rewarding effects. Our data indicate that compounds like BP 897 could be used for reducing the drug craving and vulnerability to relapse that are elicited by drug-associated environmental stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / metabolism
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Genes, fos
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Piperazines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / agonists*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration


  • DRD3 protein, human
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Drd3 protein, mouse
  • Drd3 protein, rat
  • Piperazines
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • BP 897