Role of oxidative stress in cocaine-induced cardiotoxicity and cocaine-related death

Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(33):5619-23. doi: 10.2174/092986712803988785.


Cocaine-induced cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension, thrombosis, myocardial dysfunction, cardiac dysrhythmias and endocarditis have received widespread attention in the context of cocaine abuse. The number of sudden deaths from cardiac causes, including myocardial infarction, ventricular tachyarrhythmia or aortic dissection, is also increasing. This manuscript will highlight the recent employment of study about cocaine cardiotoxicity and oxidative stress. Evidence has revealed that cardiac oxidative stress is a prominent early event of cocaine administration, which severely compromises the cardiac antioxidant cellular system and causes cardiac antioxidant cellular system injuries. Oxidative damage such as peroxidation of membrane phospholipids and depletion of nonenzymatic antioxidants such as glutathione have been found in the myocardium of chronic cocaine-treated animals and in patients. The data indicate that cocaine administration compromised the heart's antioxidant defense system. About the mechanisms involved in the cellular damage, the evidence that cocaine causes apoptosis in the heart comes from in vivo study. In animals model after short-term and long term-cocaine administration, the investigators demonstrates the role of Reactive Oxygen Species as a trigger of cardiac injury induced by cocaine. Cocaine also increased infiltration of inflammatory cells in the heart, and apoptotic cells were predominantly found near inflammatory cells. The role of oxidative stress in cocaine-induced apoptosis in the heart is wide studied and documented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiotoxins / adverse effects
  • Cardiotoxins / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine / metabolism
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / adverse effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Cardiotoxins
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cocaine