A recent push to provide more translationally relevant preclinical models for examination of pharmacological mechanisms underlying inhaled substances of abuse has resulted in the development of equipment and methods that allows exposure of freely moving rodents to aerosolized psychoactive drugs. In the present study, synthetic cannabinoids (CP55,940, AB-CHMINACA, and AMB-FUBINACA) were administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) or aerosolized via a modified electronic cigarette device. Subsequently, the compounds were evaluated in adult male and female C57/Bl6 mice trained to discriminate i.p. 5.6 mg/kg Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for food reinforcement. When administered i.p., THC and AB-CHMINACA were equally potent at producing THC-like effects in both sexes, but CP55,940 and AMB-FUBINACA were more potent in males. Upon aerosol exposure, all compounds continued to produce THC-like effects in both sexes, with AMB-FUBINACA remaining the most potent. In contrast, aerosolized CP55,940 showed substantial decreases in potency in both sexes. Aerosolized nicotine did not substitute for THC in either sex. In females, aerosolized cumyl-4CN-BINACA produced concentration-dependent increases in responding on the THC-associated nosepoke. In addition, the effects of an active concentration of AMB-FUBINACA were reversed by rimonabant, suggesting CB1 receptor mediation. These results show that synthetic cannabinoids produce THC-like effects when injected i.p. or after aerosolization. This study adds to a growing literature suggesting that evaluation of abuse liability of substances via aerosol exposure is feasible and may provide a translationally relevant method that allows for investigation of factors important to the abuse of drugs which humans typically smoke or vape.
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Route of administration and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-like discriminative stimulus effects of synthetic cannabinoids in mice