Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Barbara Hargrave

Committee Member

Keith A. Carson

Committee Member

Frank A. Lattanzio, Jr.

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 T53 2002


Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) is an important transcription factor that participates in the genetic regulation of inflammation in many tissues. Cocaine and heroin are drugs of abuse associated with renal and cardiac pathology. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that exposure to cocaine or morphine (a metabolite of heroin) would activate NF-kB in renal epithelial cells (COS-7) and cardiac myocytes (H9c2) grown in culture. COS-7 and H9c2 cells were co-transfected with an experimental reporter specific for NF-kB activation and a control reporter with constitutive activity. A dual-luciferase assay was used to determine levels of NF-kB activation after exposure to increasing concentrations of cocaine or morphine. It was determined that 10-2 M cocaine activated NF-kB in both cell types with or without I-kappa B (IkB) overexpression. Cocaine at 10-4 M also activated NF-kB in H9c2 cells, but not in COS-7 cells. Morphine was unable to activate NF-kB in either cell type at any of the concentrations tested. We conclude that cocaine, but not morphine, activates NF-kB in both COS-7 and H9c2 cells grown in culture.


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