• Article

Comparative effects of dextromethorphan and dextrorphan on nicotine discrimination in rats

While the role of dextrorphan and dextromethorphan as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists has received considerable research attention, their effects on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) has been less well characterized. Recent in vitro and in vivo research has suggested that these drugs noncompetitively block alpha 3 beta 4*, alpha 4 beta 2, and alpha 7 nAChR subtypes and antagonize nicotine's antinociceptive and reinforcing effects. Both drugs were most potent at blocking alpha 3 beta 4* AChR. This study investigated the effects of dextrorphan and dextromethorphan on nicotine's discriminative stimulus effects. Three groups of rats were trained in a two-lever drug discrimination procedure to discriminate 0.4 mg/kg s.c. nicotine from saline. Nicotine dose-dependently substituted for itself in all three groups. In contrast, when dextrorphan (group 1) or dextromethorphan (group 2) were injected i.p., neither substitution for nor antagonism of nicotine was observed for either drug. Since i.p. administration allows substantial metabolism of dextromethorphan to its parent compound dextrorphan, the two drugs were also tested following s.c. administration (group 3). Discrimination results were similar across both routes of administration, in that neither substitution nor antagonism occurred, however, s.c. administration reduced response rates to a much greater extent than did i.p. administration. Previous work suggests that P2 subunits are crucial for mediation of nicotine's discriminative stimulus effects and may play a role in its reinforcing effects, albeit other research suggests a role for alpha 3 alpha 4* nicotinic receptors in the latter. Our results suggest that alpha 3 beta 4* nicotinic receptors do not play a major role in nicotine's discriminative stimulus effects. Further, they suggest that the role of cholinergic mediation of the behavioral effects of dextrorphan and dextromethorphan related to the abuse properties of nicotine may be minimal. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved


Wright, MJ., Vann, RE., Gamage, T. F., Damaj, MI., & Wiley, J. (2006). Comparative effects of dextromethorphan and dextrorphan on nicotine discrimination in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 85(3), 507-513.