The discriminative stimulus effects of i.v. nicotine in rhesus monkeys: Pharmacokinetics and apparent pA2 analysis with dihydro-β-erythroidine
Quantitative analysis of antagonism is infrequently used to identify nAChRs mediating behavioral effects. Here, nicotine (0.032 mg/kg i.v.) was established as a discriminative stimulus in rhesus monkeys responding under a fixed ratio 5 schedule; pharmacokinetics and underlying nAChR mechanism(s) were examined. When measured up to 4 h in venous blood, the training dose resulted in the following mean pharmacokinetic parameters: nicotine Cmax = 71.7 ng/ml, t1/2 = 116 min, and clearance = 6.25 ml/min/kg; cotinine Cmax = 191 ng/ml; and 3OH-cotinine Cmax = 63 ng/ml. The ED50 value of nicotine to produce discriminative stimulus effects was 0.013 mg/kg. Epibatidine and varenicline increased drug-lever responding to 97% and 95%, respectively (ED50 values = 0.00015 and 0.031 mg/kg, respectively), whereas cocaine, midazolam, and morphine produced no more than 28% drug-appropriate responding. Mecamylamine and dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE) dose-dependently attenuated the discriminative stimulus effects of the nicotine training dose, whereas methyllycaconitine (MLA) did not. DHβE (0.1 and 0.32) produced rightward shifts of the nicotine and varenicline dose-response functions; Schild plots fitted through individual data resulted in slopes that were not different from unity; the apparent pA2 calculated for DHβE did not significantly differ in the presence of nicotine (6.58) or varenicline (6.45). Compared to human cigarette smoking, nicotine blood levels after 0.032 mg/kg nicotine i.v. took a similar time to reach maximal concentration, levels at Cmax were similar to smoking 2–3 cigarettes, while average nicotine levels were comparable to smoking 5–6 cigarettes. Apparent pA2 analysis with DHβE under these conditions is consistent with nicotine and varenicline acting through the same nAChRs to produce discriminative stimulus effects.