Effects of the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Antagonist Mecamylamine on the Discriminative Stimulus Effects of Cocaine in Male Rhesus Monkeys

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Preclinical drug discrimination procedures have been useful in understanding the pharmacological mechanisms of the subjective-like effects of abused drugs. Converging lines of evidence from neurochemical and behavioral studies implicate a potential role of nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptors in the abuse-related effects of cocaine. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of the nACh receptor antagonist mecamylamine on the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine in nonhuman primates. The effects of mecamylamine on the cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine were also examined. Male rhesus monkeys (n = 5) were trained to discriminate 0.32 mg/kg, IM cocaine from saline in a 2-key, food-reinforced discrimination procedure. Initially, potency and time course of cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects were determined for nicotine and mecamylamine alone. Test sessions were then conducted examining the effects of mecamylamine on cocaine or the cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine. Curiously, mecamylamine produced partial cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects. Mecamylamine did not significantly alter the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine up to doses that significantly decreased rates of operant responding. Mecamylamine and nicotine combinations were not different than saline. These results confirm previous nonhuman primate studies of partial substitution with nicotine and extend these findings with mecamylamine. Furthermore, these results extend previous results in rats suggesting cocaine may have nACh receptor antagonist properties.

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