The Discriminative Stimulus Effects of γ-Hydroxybutyrate and Related Compounds in Rats Discriminating Baclofen or Diazepam: The Role of GABA B and GABAA Receptors

L. P. Carter, A. W. Unzeitig, H. Wu, W. Chen, A. Coop, W. Koek, Charles P. France

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The discriminative stimulus effects of γ-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) can be mimicked by GABAA receptor-positive modulators (e.g., diazepam) and GABAB receptor agonists (e.g., baclofen). The purposes of this study were to see whether stimulus control could be established with baclofen and to further characterize the role of GABAergic mechanisms in the behavioral actions of GHB by evaluating GHB and related compounds in rats discriminating either diazepam or baclofen. Training criteria were satisfied with baclofen and diazepam after 69 and 44 sessions, respectively. GHB and its precursors γ-butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol occasioned >80% responding on the drug-associated lever in rats discriminating baclofen and <11% in rats discriminating diazepam. Diazepam and other GABAA receptor-positive modulators occasioned intermediate levels of responding on the baclofen lever, whereas baclofen occasioned less than 4% responding on the diazepam lever. The GABAB receptor antagonist CGP 35348 [(3-aminopropyl)(diethoxymethyl) phosphinic acid] partially antagonized the effects of baclofen as well as the baclofen-like effects of GHB, and flumazenil partially antagonized the effects of diazepam. This study established stimulus control with baclofen, and substitution data provided direct evidence for a role of GABAergic, especially GABAB, mechanisms in the discriminative stimulus effects of GHB. The lack of substitution by GHB or its metabolic precursors for diazepam indicates a comparatively smaller role of GABAA mechanisms in these effects of GHB. The inability of CGP 35348 to completely attenuate the effects of baclofen and GHB suggests that multiple receptors could be involved in the discriminative stimulus effects of GHB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-547
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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