Intravenous haloperidol and cocaine alter the distribution of T CD3+CD4+, non-T/NK and NKT cells in rats

Maciej M. Jankowski*, Bogna M. Ignatowska-Jankowska, Wojciech Glac, Marek Wiergowski, Paulina Kazmierska-Grebowska, Artur H. Swiergiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The modulation of dopamine transmission evokes strong behavioural effects that can be achieved by commonly used psychoactive drugs such as haloperidol or cocaine. Cocaine non-specifically increases dopamine transmission by blocking dopamine active transporter (DAT) and evokes behavioural arousal, whereas haloperidol is a non-specific D2-like dopamine receptor antagonist with sedative effects. Interestingly, dopamine has been found to affect immune cells in addition to its action in the central nervous system. Here, we address the possible interactions between haloperidol and cocaine and their effects on both immune cells and behaviour in freely moving rats. We use an intravenous model of haloperidol and binge cocaine administration to evaluate the drugs' impact on the distribution of lymphocyte subsets in both the peripheral blood and the spleen. We assess the drugs' behavioural effects by measuring locomotor activity. Cocaine evoked a pronounced locomotor response and stereotypic behaviours, both of which were completely blocked after pretreatment with haloperidol. The results suggest that blood lymphopenia, which was induced by haloperidol and cocaine (except for natural killer T cells), is independent of D2-like dopaminergic activity and most likely results from the massive secretion of corticosterone. Haloperidol pretreatment prevented the cocaine-induced decrease in NKT cell numbers. Moreover, the increased systemic D2-like dopaminergic activity after cocaine administration is a significant factor in retaining T CD3+CD4+ lymphocytes and non-T/NK CD45RA+ cells in the spleen.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)453-462
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


  • cocaine
  • haloperidol
  • immune system
  • peripheral blood
  • rat
  • spleen


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