Lower reinforcing strength of the phenyltropane cocaine analogs RTI-336 and RTI-177 compared to cocaine in nonhuman primates
Drugs that inhibit brain dopamine transporters (DAT) have been developed as potential agonist medications for cocaine abuse and dependence. Because the mechanism of action of such drugs is similar to cocaine, one concern regarding their use is the abuse potential of the medications themselves. The present study compared the reinforcing strength of cocaine (0.003–0.3 mg/kg) and two 3-phenyltropane analogs of cocaine, RTI-336 (3?-(4-chlorophenyl)-2?-[3-(4?-methylphenyl)isoxazol-5-yl]tropane hydrochloride; 0.003–0.1 mg/kg) and RTI-177 (3?-(4-chlorophenyl)-2?-[3-phenylisoxazol-5-yl]tropane hydrochloride; 0.003–0.1 mg/kg), using a progressive-ratio (PR) schedule in rhesus monkeys (n = 4). PR schedules of reinforcement are frequently used to measure reinforcing strength of drugs. Earlier research using limited-access conditions reported that cocaine was a stronger reinforcer than either RTI-336 or RTI-177. Because the 3-phenyltropanes have longer durations of action, one purpose of the present study was to examine reinforcing strength using longer experimental sessions. Under these conditions, cocaine functioned as a reinforcer in all monkeys, and RTI-336 and RTI-177 functioned as a reinforcer in three of four subjects. Consistent with their documented slower onset of neurochemical and pharmacological effects, RTI-336 and RTI-177 were weaker reinforcers, resulting in fewer injections than cocaine. On average, the potencies of the two RTI compounds were not different than that of cocaine. These results support the view that slow-onset DA-selective uptake inhibitors have lower abuse liability than cocaine. In addition, the present findings suggest that changes in PR session length can influence potency comparisons between drugs, but not measures of reinforcing strength.