The α-1 adrenoceptor (ADRA1A) genotype moderates the magnitude of acute cocaine-induced subjective effects in cocaine-dependent individuals

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We examined whether a functional variant of the ADRA1A gene moderated cocaine-induced subjective effects in a group of cocaine-dependent individuals.


This study was a within-participant, double-blind, placebo-controlled inpatient human laboratory evaluation of 65 nontreatment-seeking, cocaine-dependent [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV)] individuals aged 18–55 years. Participants received both placebo (saline, IV) and cocaine (40 mg, IV), and subjective responses were assessed 15 min before receiving an infusion and at 5 min intervals for the subsequent 20 min. The rs1048101 variant of the α1A-adrenoceptor (ADRA1A) gene was genotyped and it was evaluated whether the Cys to Arg substitution at codon 347 in exon 2 (Cys347Arg) moderated the magnitude of the subjective effects produced by cocaine.


Thirty (46%) participants were found to have the major allele CC genotype and 35 (44%) carried at least one minor T-allele of rs1048101 (TT or TC genotype). Individuals with the CC genotype showed greater responses for ‘desire’ (P<0.0001), ‘high’ (P<0.0001), ‘any drug effect’ (P<0.0001), ‘like cocaine’ (P<0.0001), and ‘likely to use cocaine if given access’ (P<0.05) with experiment-wise significance.


This study indicates that the ADRA1A genotype could be used to identify individuals for whom acute cocaine exposure may be more rewarding and by inference may result in greater difficulty in establishing and/or maintaining abstinence from cocaine.

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