Preclinical support for the therapeutic potential of zolmitriptan as a treatment for cocaine use disorders

Raul Garcia, Tien Le, Samantha N. Scott, Delaram Charmchi, Jamie M.L. Sprout, Nathan S. Pentkowski, Janet L. Neisewander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Serotonin 1B receptor (5-HT1BR) agonists enhance cocaine intake in rats during daily self-administration but attenuate cocaine intake after prolonged abstinence. Here we investigated whether the less selective but clinically available 5-HT1D/1BR agonist, zolmitriptan, produces similar effects. Male and free-cycling female Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to lever press for cocaine (0.75 mg/kg, i.v.) or sucrose (45 mg pellet) reinforcement until performance rates stabilized. Rats then received zolmitriptan (3.0, 5.6, and 10 mg/kg, s.c.) prior to testing for its effects on response and reinforcement rates. Under cocaine testing conditions, rats had access to the training dose for the first hour followed by a lower cocaine dose (0.075 mg/kg, i.v.) for the second hour. Zolmitriptan decreased cocaine intake at both cocaine doses and in both sexes even without a period of abstinence and without altering sucrose intake. A separate group of rats underwent identical training procedures and were tested for effects of the selective 5-HT1B and 5-HT1D receptor antagonists, SB224289 (3.2, 5.6, and 10 mg/kg, s.c.) and BRL15572 (0.3, 1.0, and 3.0 mg/kg, i.p.), respectively, alone or in combination with zolmitriptan (5.6 mg/kg, s.c.) under identical cocaine testing procedures as above. The zolmitriptan-induced decrease in cocaine intake was reversed by SB224289 and to a lesser extent by BRL15572, suggesting that the effects of zolmitriptan involve both 5-HT1B and 5-HT1D receptors. Neither zolmitriptan, SB224289, or BRL15572 altered locomotor activity at the doses effective for modulating cocaine intake. These findings suggest that zolmitriptan has potential for repurposing as a treatment for cocaine use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number266
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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