Effects of γ-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) on Schedule-Controlled Responding in Rats: Role of GHB and GABAB Receptors

Lawrence P. Carter, Huifang Wu, Weibin Chen, Christopher M. Cruz, R. J. Lamb, Wouter Koek, Andy Coop, Charles P. France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


γ-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a metabolite of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is an increasingly popular drug of abuse and was recently approved for the treatment of narcolepsy (Xyrem). GHB and GABA receptors have been implicated in mediating effects of GHB; however, the relative importance of each of these receptors is unclear. This study evaluated the effects of selective antagonists in combination with GHB and related compounds on schedule-controlled responding. Eight male Sprágue-Dawley rats responded under a fixed-ratio schedule of food presentation. Cumulative dose-effect curves were generated and ED50 values calculated to evaluate the relative potency at decreasing responding. The rank-order potency was as follows: diazepam = baclofen > γ-butyrolactone (GBL) > 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BDL) = GHB. All compounds decreased responding 20 min after administration. The duration of action of diazepam, GHB, and GBL was shorter than that of 1,4-BDL and baclofen. p-3-Aminopropyl-p-diethoxymethyl phosphinic acid (CGP 35348) antagonized the rate-decreasing effects of baclofen and not GHB; flumazenil antagonized the effects of diazepam and not GHB. The GHB receptor antagonist (2E)-(5-hydroxy-5,7,8,9-tetrahydro-6H-benzo[a][7]annulen-6-ylidene ethanoic acid (NCS-382) did not attenuate the rate-decreasing effects of GHB, baclofen, or diazepam; larger doses of NCS-382 further decreased rate of responding when given in combination with each of these compounds. These studies show that GBL, 1,4-BDL, and GHB differ significantly in potency and duration of action. The ability of CGP 35348 to antagonize the rate-decreasing effects of baclofen may be limited by the involvement of multiple GABAB receptor subtypes and the lack of antagonism of GHB by NCS-382 may be due to its own GHB-like effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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