Discriminative-stimulus effects of NS9283, a nicotinic α4β2* positive allosteric modulator, in nicotine-discriminating rats

Eric G Mohler, Stanley R Franklin, Lynne E Rueter
Psychopharmacology 2014, 231 (1): 67-74

RATIONALE: Neuronal α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors mediate cognition, pain, and the discriminative and reinforcing effects of nicotine. In addition to traditional orthosteric agonists, α4β2* positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) have recently been identified. With increased subtype selectivity relative to agonists, PAMs administered alone or in combination with low-dose α4β2* agonists may be used as powerful tools for increasing our understanding of α4β2* pharmacology.

OBJECTIVES: The present experiments tested the nicotine discriminative-stimulus effects of the α4β2* PAM NS9283 (A-969933) in the presence and absence of low-dose nicotine or nicotinic subtype-selective agonist.

METHODS: Rats were trained to discriminate 0.4 mg/kg nicotine from saline in a two-lever drug discrimination paradigm. In subsequent generalization tests, rats were administered nicotine, the α4β2*-preferring agonist ABT-594, and NS9283, alone or in two-drug combinations.

RESULTS: Nicotine and ABT-594 showed dose-dependent nicotine generalization. NS9283 alone resulted in a non-significant increase in nicotine-appropriate lever selection. Combination of non-effective doses of nicotine or ABT-594 with escalating doses of NS9283 resulted in a complete conversion to 100 % nicotine-appropriate choice in the case of nicotine combination and incomplete, though significant, generalization for ABT-594.

CONCLUSIONS: The α4β2* PAM NS9283 alone did not produce nicotine-like discriminative effects, but did demonstrate dose-related increases in nicotine lever choice when combined with a non-effective dose of nicotine or the α4β2* agonist ABT-594. This finding provides confirmation of the positive allosteric modulating effect of NS9283 in a functional in vivo paradigm. NS9283 is a potentially valuable tool for studying the role of α4β2* receptors in various nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-related functions.

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