Toxicology and applied pharmacology

Effects of ethanol on cocaine metabolism: formation of cocaethylene and norcocaethylene.

PMID 1440602


The coabuse of cocaine and ethanol occurs with high frequency and increases the risk of cocaine-related morbidity and mortality. The mechanisms mediating the toxic interactions of cocaine and ethanol are not clearly defined. This study examined the effects of acute ethanol administration on the metabolism of cocaine in the male Wistar rat. Intraperitoneal administration of 2 g/kg ethanol 30 min prior to administration of 25 mg/kg cocaine resulted in the formation of two ethylated derivatives of cocaine, benzoylecgonine ethyl ester (cocaethylene) and benzoylnorecgonine ethyl ester (norcocaethylene) in liver, brain, and serum. Fifteen minutes after cocaine administration, the tissue levels of cocaethylene were 22, 10, and 9% of the cocaine recovered from liver, serum, and brain, respectively. Ethanol pretreatment increased cocaine concentrations in liver and benzoylnorecgonine concentrations in liver and serum. The increased morbidity and hepatotoxicity seen with acute combined administration of cocaine and ethanol may be due to the formation of the toxic ethylated and N-demethylated metabolites of cocaine. Ethanol pretreatment decreased benzoylecgonine concentrations in serum and liver. The most important consequence of ethanol-induced inhibition of the normally rapid hydrolysis of cocaine to benzoylecgonine may be a decrease in benzoylecgonine-mediated vasoconstriction.

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Benzoylnorecgonine, analytical standard