Effects of pregnanolone in rats discriminating cocaine

M. S. Quinton, L. R. Gerak, J. M. Moerschbaecher, P. J. Winsauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine are typically attributed to its ability to increase dopaminergic transmission, although drugs that have different mechanisms of action can substitute for cocaine and modulation of the GABAA receptor system has been reported to alter its discriminative effects. Therefore, a discrimination procedure was used to extend the characterization of cocaine's discriminative effects and to examine the interaction between cocaine and pregnanolone, a drug that can modulate the GABAA receptor complex. Rats (n = 15) were trained to discriminate saline from 5.6 or 10 mg/kg of cocaine under a fixed-ratio (FR) 20 schedule of food presentation. The dopamine releaser d-amphetamine and two monoamine uptake inhibitors bupropion and desipramine substituted for cocaine. In contrast, the positive GABAA modulators pregnanolone and lorazepam and the opioid agonist morphine did not substitute for cocaine. When administered prior to cocaine, the D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol and pregnanolone, but not lorazepam, produced a small rightward shift of the cocaine dose-effect curve. The results of the present studies suggest that the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine are not solely mediated by increases in dopaminergic transmission and that positive modulation of GABAA receptors by pregnanolone can alter these effects, albeit at doses that also decrease overall response rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine
  • Drug discrimination
  • Positive GABA modulators
  • Pregnanolone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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