Discriminative stimulus effects of the GABAB receptor-positive modulator rac-BHFF: Comparison with GABAB receptor agonists and drugs of abuse

Wouter Koek, Kejun Cheng, Kenner C. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


GABAB receptor-positive modulators are thought to have advantages as potential medications for anxiety, depression, and drug addiction. They may have fewer side effects than GABAB receptor agonists, because selective enhancement of activated receptors could have effects different from nonselective activation of all receptors. To examine this, pigeons were trained to discriminate the GABAB receptor-positive modulator (R,S)-5,7- di-tert-butyl-3-hydroxy-3-trifluoromethyl-3H-benzofuran-2- one (rac-BHFF) from its vehicle. The discriminative stimulus effects of rac-BHFF were not mimicked by the GABAB receptor agonists baclofen and g-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), not by diazepam, and not by alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine, whose selfadministration has been reported to be attenuated by GABAB receptor-positive modulators. The discriminative stimulus effects of rac-BHFF were not antagonized by the GABAB receptor antagonist 3-aminopropyl (diethoxymethyl)phosphinic acid (CGP35348) but were attenuated by the less efficacious GABAB receptor-positive modulator 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-(3-hydroxy-2,2- dimethylpropyl)phenol (CGP7930), suggesting the possibility that rac-BHFF produces its discriminative stimulus effects by directly activating GABAB2 subunits of GABAB receptors. At a dose 10- fold lower than the training dose, rac-BHFF enhanced the discriminative stimulus effects of baclofen, but not of GHB. This study provides evidence that the effects of GABAB receptorpositive modulators are not identical to those of GABAB receptor agonists. In addition, the results suggest that positive modulation of GABAB receptors does not produce discriminative stimulus effects similar to those of benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine. Finally, the finding that rac-BHFF enhanced effects of baclofen but not of GHB is consistent with converging evidence that the populations of GABAB receptors mediating the effects of baclofen and GHB are not identical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-560
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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