Cocaine causes atrial purkinje fiber damage

Jacques Gilloteaux, Nelson N. Ekwedike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Comparisons of atrial tissues from Syrian hamster offspring born from cocaine-treated mothers during the last days of pregnancy with sham-treated ones demonstrate irreversible focal ischemic damage in the Purkinje myofibers and minor endocardial damages as well as minute cardiomyocyte vacuolization. These defects are consistent with the pharmacotoxicity of cocaine or its metabolites. The damaged Purkinje myocytes apparently remain in contact with adjacent cardiomyocytes but undergo autolytic process similar to that found in autoschizic cell death. Adjacent cell type(s) appear to segregate or engulf the injured cells. Data collected in this report demonstrate why clinical bradyarrhythmias, arrhythmias, or sudden death as cardiac arrest can be found in pre- and postnatal cocaine-abused babies as well as those found in young individuals caused by acute or chronic cocaine abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Arrhythmia
  • Cell death
  • Cocaine
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Heart
  • Purkinje myofiber
  • Syrian hamster


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