Comparison of acute effects of heroin and Kerack on sensory and motor activity of honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Document Type: Original Article


Department of Biology, School of Sciences, Shahed University, Tehran, Iran


Objective(s):Previous studies demonstrated a functional similarity between vertebrate and honey bee nervous systems. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of heroin and Iranian street Kerack, a combination of heroin and caffeine, on sensory threshold and locomotor activity in honey bees.
Materials and Methods: All drugs were given orally to honey bees 30 min before each experiment. The levels of these drugs and their metabolites in brain samples of honey bees were determined by GC/MS. The sucrose sensitivity test was used for evaluation of changes in honey bees’ sensory threshold. Following the administration of both drugs, the honey bees’ locomotor activity changes were evaluated in open fields.
Results: 6-acetylmorphine had a higher concentration in comparison with other heroin metabolites in honey bees’ brains. Concentration of the compound in the brain was directly proportional to the amount ingested. Heroin reduced the sensory threshold of honey bees, but Kerack increased it in the same doses. Locomotor activity of honey bee in open field was enhanced after the administration of both drugs. However, immobility time of honey bees was only affected by high doses of heroin.
Conclusion: Acute effects of heroin andKerack on the sensory and motor functions of honey bees were different. Findings of this research suggest that these differences originated from the activation of different neurotransmitter systems by caffeine together with activation of opioid receptors by heroin.


1. Pouletty P. Drug addictions: towards socially accepted and medically treatable diseases. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2002; 1:731-736.

2. Morrison J, Thornton V, Ranaldi R. Chronic intermittent heroin produces locomotor sensitization and long-lasting enhancement of conditioned reinforcement. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2011; 99:475-479.

3. Blum J, Gerber H, Gerhard U, Schmid O, Petitjean S, Riecher-Rössler A, et al. Acute effects of heroin on emotions in heroin-dependent patients. Am J Addict 2013; 22:598-604.

4. Mysels DJ, Sullivan MA. The relationship between opioid and sugar intake: review of evidence and clinical applications. J Opioid Manag 2010; 6:445-452.

5. Alam Mehrjerdi Z. Crystal in Iran: methamphe-tamine or heroin Kerack. Daru 2013; 21:22.

6. Klous MG, Nuijen B, Van den Brink W, Van Ree JM, Beijnen JH. Development and manufacture of diacetylmorphine/caffeine sachets for inhalation by ‘chasing the dragon’ by heroin addicts. Drug Dev Ind Pharm 2004; 30:775–784.

7. Klous MG, Nuijen B, Van den Brink W, Van Ree JM, Beijnen JH. Process characterisation, optimisation and validation of production of diacetylmorphine/caffeine sachets: a design of experiments approach. Int J Pharm 2004; 285:65–75.

8. Klous MG1, Lee W, Hillebrand MJ, van den Brink W, van Ree JM, Beijnen JH. Analysis of diacetylmorphine, caffeine, and degradation products