Evaluation of the reinforcing and discriminative stimulus effects of γ-hydroxybutyrate in rhesus monkeys

William L. Woolverton, James K. Rowlett, Gail Winger, James H. Woods, Lisa R. Gerak, Charles P. France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a metabolite of GABA that is present in the CNS and fulfils at least some of the criteria for a neurotransmitter. Its effects are generally similar to those of CNS depressants and include ataxia, sleep and anesthesia. It has also been suggested that GHB is a drug of abuse. The present experiment was designed to evaluate GHB in procedures predictive of abuse and dependence potential in rhesus monkeys. Three monkeys were surgically prepared with indwelling silicone venous catheters and allowed to self-administer methohexital or saline in twice-daily experimental sessions. Other groups of monkeys were trained in drug discrimination paradigms to discriminate d-amphetamine (AMPH; n=4), pentobarbital (PB; n=3) or triazolam (n=3) from saline. Another group was maintained on diazepam daily and trained to discriminate flumazenil from saline (n=2). GHB (0.01-10 mg/kg per injection) maintained self-administration marginally above saline levels at one dose (3.2 or 10 mg/kg) in two of the three monkeys tested. GHB (1.0-178 mg/kg, subcutaneously (s.c.) or intragastrically (i.g.)) did not reliably substitute as a discriminative stimulus for any of the training conditions. Taken together with previous results, the present experiment suggests that GHB has, at most, low potential for abuse. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse potential
  • Dependence potential
  • Drug discrimination
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate
  • Rhesus monkeys
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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