Nicotine-like discriminative and aversive effects of two α4β2-selective nicotine agonists, ispronicline and metanicotine

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An attempt to determine the receptor selective nature of some of nicotine's behavioral effects was undertaken through the evaluation of the ability of two nicotinic α4β2∗-selective receptor agonists to produce nicotine-like effects and modify rates of responding in a discrimination assay and in an aversive stimulus assay. A group of eight rats was trained to discriminate the presence of 1 mg/kg nicotine base. Another group of 4-6 rats was trained to report the aversive effects of nicotine by selecting a lever that produced one food pellet over a second lever that produced two food pellets and an intravenous injection of nicotine. Ispronicline and metanicotine, two α4β2∗-selective receptor agonists, increased selection of the nicotine-appropriate lever in a dose-related manner, up to a maximum of approximately 75%. The α4β2∗-selective receptor antagonist, dihydro-beta-erythroidine blocked both the discriminative stimulus effects and the rate-suppressing effects of ispronicline, metanicotine, and small, but not large doses of nicotine. The nonselective antagonist, mecamylamine, antagonized the discriminative stimulus effects of each of the three nicotine agonists as well as the rate-decreasing effects of nicotine and metanicotine. Mecamylamine did not modify the rate-decreasing effects of ispronicline. Both ispronicline and metanicotine as well as nicotine were avoided in the drug + food vs. food choice situation. The receptor-selective nature of ispronicline and metanicotine was hereby confirmed in a behavioral assay, as were earlier reports that the discriminative stimulus effects of relatively small doses of nicotine are likely mediated by activity at the α4β2∗ nicotine receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • aversion
  • discrimination
  • ispronicline
  • metanicotine
  • nicotine
  • rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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