Cocaine mechanisms: Enhanced cocaine, fluoxetine and nisoxetine place preferences following monoamine transporter deletions

F. S. Hall, X. F. Li, I. Sora, F. Xu, M. Caron, K. P. Lesch, D. L. Murphy, G. R. Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Cocaine blocks uptake by neuronal plasma membrane transporters for dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, producing subjective effects in humans that are both euphoric/rewarding and also fearful, jittery and aversive. Mice with gene knockouts of each of these transporters display cocaine reward, manifest by cocaine place preferences that are at least as great as wildtype values. Norepinephrine and serotonin receptor knockouts even display enhanced cocaine reward. One explanation for these observations could be that cocaine produces aversive or anhedonic effects by serotonin or norepinephrine receptor blockade in wildtype mice that are removed in serotonin or norepinephrine receptor knockouts, increasing net cocaine reward. Adaptations to removing one transporter could also change the rewarding valence of blocking the remaining transporters. To test these ideas, drugs that block serotonin transporter (fluoxetine), norepinephrine transporter (nisoxetine) or all three transporters (cocaine) were examined in single- or multiple-transporter knockout mice. Fluoxetine and nisoxetine acquire rewarding properties in several knockouts that are not observed in wildtype mice. Adding serotonin transporter knockout to norepinephrine transporter knockouts dramatically potentiates cocaine reward. These and previous data provide evidence that serotonin and norepinephrine transporter blockade can contribute to the net rewarding valence of cocaine. They identify neuroadaptations that may help to explain the retention of cocaine reward by dopamine and serotonin transporter knockout mice. They are consistent with emerging hypotheses that actions at the three primary brain molecular targets for cocaine each provide distinct contributions to cocaine reward and cocaine aversion in wildtype mice, and that this balance changes in mice that develop without dopamine, norepinephrine or serotonin transporters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Knockout mice
  • Norepinephrine transporter
  • Reward
  • Serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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