Cocaethylene, a metabolite of cocaine and ethanol, is a potent blocker of cardiac sodium channels

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1994 Oct;271(1):319-25.


Cocaethylene is an active metabolite of cocaine believed to play a causative role in the increased incidence of sudden death in individuals who coadminister ethanol with cocaine. However, the direct effects of cocaethylene on the heart have not been well defined. In this study, we defined the effects of cocaethylene on the cardiac Na current (INa) in guinea pig ventricular myocytes at 16 degrees C using the whole-cell patch-clamp method. Cocaethylene (10-50 microM) produced both a significant tonic block and a rate-dependent block of INa at cycle lengths between 2 and 0.2 sec. Cocaethylene produced a significantly greater tonic block than cocaine at a concentration of 50 microM and produced a significantly greater use-dependent block over a 5-fold range of drug concentrations (10-50 microM) and cycle lengths (0.2-1.0 sec). Analysis of channel-blocking characteristics revealed that cocaethylene had a significantly higher affinity for inactivated channels (Kdi = 5.1 +/- 0.6 microM, n = 15) compared with cocaine (Kdi = 7.9 +/- 0.5 microM, n = 10) (P < .01) and that cocaethylene produced a significantly greater hyperpolarizing shift of the steady-state INa inactivation curve (P < .05). Cocaethylene also had a significantly longer time constant for recovery from channel block at -140 mV (12.24 +/- 0.88 sec, n = 16) compared with cocaine (8.33 +/- 0.56 sec, n = 14) (P < .01).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects*


  • Sodium Channels
  • Ethanol
  • cocaethylene
  • Cocaine