Patients with acute cocaine poisoning present with life-threatening symptoms involving several organ systems. While the effects of cocaine are myriad, they are the result of a limited number of cocaine-protein interactions, including monoamine transporters, neurotransmitter receptors and voltage-gated ion channels. These primary interactions trigger a cascade of events that ultimately produce the clinical effects. The purpose of this article is to review the primary interactions of cocaine and the effects that these interactions trigger. We also describe the progression of symptoms observed in cocaine poisoning as they relate to serum cocaine concentrations.
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