Chemokine CCR5 and cocaine interactions in the brain: Cocaine enhances mesolimbic CCR5 mRNA levels and produces place preference and locomotor activation that are reduced by a CCR5 antagonist

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jan:83:288-292. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.09.017. Epub 2019 Sep 23.


C-C chemokine receptor type 5, also known as CCR5 or CD195, is best known as a viral co-receptor that facilitates entry of HIV into cells. Evidence that CCR5 knockout mice display fewer dopamine neurons, lower striatal dopamine levels, and reduced locomotor activation compared to wild types also suggest a link between CCR5 receptors and cocaine dependence. Here, we tested the hypothesis using male Sprague-Dawley rats that cocaine-induced locomotor activation and conditioned place preference (CPP) are inhibited by a FDA-approved CCR5 antagonist (maraviroc), and that CCR5 gene expression in mesolimbic substrates is enhanced by repeated cocaine exposure. Pretreatment with maraviroc (1, 2.5, 5 mg/kg, IP) reduced hyperlocomotion induced by acute cocaine (10 mg/kg) without affecting spontaneous locomotor activity. For CPP experiments, rats conditioned with cocaine (10 mg/kg × 4 days, IP) were injected with maraviroc (1, 2.5, 5 mg/kg, IP) before each injection of cocaine. Maraviroc dose-dependently inhibited development of cocaine CPP, with a dose of 5 mg/kg producing a significant reduction. In rats treated repeatedly with cocaine (10 mg/kg × 4 days, IP), CCR5 gene expression was upregulated in the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area but mRNA levels of CCR5 ligands (i.e., CCL3, CCL4 and CCL5) were not affected. Our results suggest that mesolimbic CCR5 receptors are dysregulated by cocaine exposure and, similar to CXCR4 and CCR2 receptors, influence behavioral effects related to the abuse liability of cocaine.

Keywords: Addiction; CCR5; Chemokine; Cocaine; Maraviroc; RANTES.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Limbic System / drug effects
  • Locomotion / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Maraviroc / pharmacology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Place Cells / drug effects*
  • Place Cells / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, CCR5 / genetics*
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / drug effects


  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Cocaine
  • Maraviroc