Cocaine hydrolase encoded in viral vector blocks the reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats for 6 months

Justin J. Anker, Stephen Brimijoin, Yang Gao, Liyi Geng, Natalie E. Zlebnik, Robin J. Parks, Marilyn E. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Cocaine dependence is a pervasive disorder with high rates of relapse. In a previous study, direct administration of a quadruple mutant albumin-fused butyrylcholinesterase that efficiently catalyzes hydrolysis of cocaine to benzoic acid and ecgonine methyl ester acutely blocked cocaine seeking in an animal model of relapse. In the present experiments, these results were extended to achieve a long-duration blockade of cocaine seeking with a gene transfer paradigm using a related butyrylcholinesterase-based cocaine hydrolase (CocH). Methods: Male and female rats were allowed to self-administer cocaine under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement for approximately 14 days. Following the final self-administration session, rats were injected with CocH vector or a control injection (empty vector or saline), and their cocaine solutions were replaced with saline for 14 days to allow for extinction of lever pressing. Subsequently, they were tested for drug-primed reinstatement by administering intraperitoneal injections of saline (S), cocaine (C) (5, 10, and 15 mg/kg), and d-amphetamine according to the following sequence: S, C, S, C, S, C, S, d-amphetamine. Rats then received cocaine-priming injections once weekly for 4 weeks and, subsequently, once monthly for up to 6 months. Results: Administration of CocH vector produced substantial and sustained CocH activity in plasma that corresponded with diminished cocaine-induced (but not amphetamine-induced) reinstatement responding for up to 6 months following treatment (compared with high-responding control animals). Conclusions: These results demonstrate that viral transfer of CocH may be useful in promoting long-term resistance to relapse to cocaine addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-705
Number of pages6
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2012


  • Addiction
  • butyrylcholinesterase
  • cocaine
  • cocaine hydrolase
  • gene therapy
  • prevention
  • relapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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