Cocaine-specific antibodies blunt the subjective effects of smoked cocaine in humans

Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Jan 1;67(1):59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.031.


Background: Rates of relapse among cocaine-dependent patients are high, and new treatment approaches are needed. Clinical data demonstrate that a cocaine vaccine (TA-CD) produces selective anticocaine antibodies, yet the impact of these antibodies on cocaine's direct effects is unknown. The objective of this human laboratory study was to measure the relationship between antibody titers and the effects of smoked cocaine on ratings of intoxication, craving, and cardiovascular effects.

Methods: Ten cocaine-dependent men not seeking drug treatment spent 2 nights per week for 13 weeks inpatient where the effects of cocaine (0 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg) were determined before vaccination and at weekly intervals thereafter. Two doses of TA-CD (82 microg, n = 4; 360 microg, n = 6) were administered at weeks 1, 3, 5, and 9.

Results: Peak plasma antibody levels, which were highly variable, significantly predicted cocaine's effects. Those individuals in the upper half of antibody production had an immediate (within 4 minutes of cocaine smoking) and robust (55%-81%) reduction in ratings of good drug effect and cocaine quality, while those in the lower half showed only a nonsignificant attenuation (6%-26%). Self-reported cocaine use while participants were outpatient tended to decrease as a function of antibody titer (p < .12). By contrast, higher antibody levels predicted significantly greater cocaine-induced tachycardia.

Conclusions: The TA-CD vaccine substantially decreased smoked cocaine's intoxicating effects in those generating sufficient antibody. These data support further testing of cocaine immunotherapy as a treatment for cocaine dependence.

Trial registration: NCT00965263.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Antibodies / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cocaine / blood
  • Cocaine / immunology*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / blood
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / immunology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Vaccination / methods*


  • Antibodies
  • Cocaine

Associated data