Overdose of stimulant drugs has been associated with increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events (ACVE), some of which may be ascribed to endothelial dysfunction. The aims of this study were to evaluate biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction in emergency department (ED) patients with acute cocaine overdose and to assess the association between in-hospital ACVE in ED patients with any acute drug overdose. This was a prospective consecutive cohort study over 9 months (2015–2016) at two urban, tertiary-care hospital EDs. Consecutive adults (≥18 years) presenting with suspected acute drug overdose were eligible and separated into three groups: cocaine (n = 47), other drugs (n = 128), and controls (n = 11). Data were obtained from medical records and linked to waste serum specimens, sent as part of routine clinical care, for biomarker analysis. Serum specimens were collected and analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit for three biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction: (a) endothelin-1 (ET-1), (b) regulated upon activation normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), and (c) soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (siCAM-1). Mean siCAM was elevated for cocaine compared with controls and other drugs (p <.01); however, mean RANTES and ET-1 levels were not significantly different for any drug exposure groups. Receiver operating characteristics curve analysis for prediction of in-hospital ACVE revealed excellent performance of siCAM-1 (area under curve, 0.86; p <.001) but lack of predictive utility for either RANTES or ET-1. These results suggest that serum siCAM-1 is a viable biomarker for acute cocaine overdose and that endothelial dysfunction may be an important surrogate for adverse cardiovascular events following any drug overdose.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12901
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • acute drug overdose
  • biomarker
  • cardiovascular events
  • cocaine
  • endothelial dysfunction


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