Some drugs that are positive allosteric nAChR modulators in vitro, desformylflustrabromine (dFBr), PNU-120596 and LY 2087101, have not been fully characterized in vivo. These drugs were examined for their capacity to share or modify the hypothermic and discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine (1 mg/kg s.c.) in male C57Bl/6J mice. Nicotine, dFBr, and PNU-120596 produced significant hypothermia, whereas LY 2087101 (up to 100 mg/kg) did not. Nicotine dose-dependently increased nicotine-appropriate responding and decreased response rate; the respective ED50values were 0.56 mg/kg and 0.91 mg/kg. The modulators produced no more than 38% nicotine-appropriate responding up to doses that disrupted operant responding. Rank order potency was the same for hypothermia and rate-decreasing effects: nicotine>dFBr>PNU-120596=LY 2087101. Mecamylamine and the α4β2 nAChR antagonist dihydro-β-erythroidine, but not the α7 antagonist methyllycaconitine, antagonized the hypothermic effects of nicotine. In contrast, mecamylamine did not antagonize the hypothermic effects of the modulators. The combined discriminative stimulus effects of DFBr and nicotine were synergistic, whereas the combined hypothermic effects of nicotine with either dFBr or PNU-120596 were infra-additive. PNU-120596 did not modify the nicotine discriminative stimulus, and LY 2087101 did not significantly modify either effect of nicotine. Positive modulation of nicotine at nAChRs by PNU-120596 and LY 2087101 in vitro does not appear to confer enhancement of the nAChR-mediated hypothermic or discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine. However, dFBr appears to be a positive allosteric modulator of some behavioral effects of nicotine at doses of dFBr smaller than the doses producing unwanted effects (e.g. hypothermia) through non-nAChR mechanisms.
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