Blockade of cocaine sensitization and tolerance by the co-administration of ondansetron, a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, and cocaine

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1997 Mar;130(2):159-65. doi: 10.1007/s002130050224.


The present experiment evaluated the ability of the 5-HT3 antagonist, ondansetron, administered during chronic cocaine administration, to block the development of sensitization and tolerance induced by the intermittent or continuous administration of cocaine, respectively. Rats were pretreated with 40 mg/kg per day cocaine for 14 days by either SC injections or osmotic minipumps, or 0.9% saline, administered by SC injection. During this chronic (cocaine) treatment, all rats received a daily SC injection of 0-1.0 mg/kg ondansetron. The rats were then withdrawn from the pretreatment regimen for 7 days. On day 7 of withdrawal from the cocaine pretreatment all subjects received a 15.0 mg/kg IP cocaine challenge, and their behavior was then rated according to the modified Ellinwood and Balster scale for 60 min. The results indicated that daily injections of ondansetron had no consistent or significant effect on the subsequent behavioral response to cocaine in the saline control subjects. In contrast, daily injections of ondansetron with cocaine significantly blocked the development of sensitization with an inverted U-shape dose-response curve. In the continuous cocaine group ondansetron injections also attenuated the development of behavioral tolerance. The results therefore indicate that 5-HT3 receptor stimulation during continuous and intermittent cocaine administration is an important link in the development of behavioral tolerance and sensitization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Cocaine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Implants
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Narcotics / adverse effects
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Ondansetron / administration & dosage
  • Ondansetron / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Drug Implants
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Narcotics
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ondansetron
  • Cocaine