Mecamylamine, dihydro-β-erythroidine, and dextromethorphan block conditioned responding evoked by the conditional stimulus effects of nicotine

Amanda M. Struthers, Jamie L. Wilkinson, Linda P. Dwoskin, Peter A. Crooks, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Current smokers express the desire to quit. However, the majority find it difficult to remain abstinent. As such, research efforts continually seek to develop more effective treatment. One such area of research involves the interoceptive stimulus effects of nicotine as either a discriminative stimulus in an operant drug discrimination task, or more recently as a conditional stimulus (CS) in a discriminated goal-tracking task. The present work investigated the potential role nicotinic acetylcholine receptors play in the CS effects of nicotine (0.4 mg/kg) using antagonists with differential selectivity for β2*, α7*, α6β2*, and α3β4* receptors. Methyllycaconitine (MLA) had no effect on nicotine-evoked conditioned responding. Mecamylamine and dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE) dose-dependently blocked responding evoked by the nicotine CS. In a time-course assessment of mecamylamine and DHβE, each blocked conditioned responding when given 5 min before testing and still blocked conditioned responding when administered 200 min before testing. Two novel bis-picolinium analogs (N, N′-(3, 3′-(dodecan-1,12-diyl)-bis-picolinium dibromide [bPiDDB], and N, N′-(decan-1,10-diyl)-bis-picolinium diiodide [bPiDI]) did not block nicotine-evoked conditioned responding. Finally, pretreatment with low dose combinations of mecamylamine, dextromethorphan, and/or bupropion was used to target α3β4* receptors. No combination blocked conditioned responding evoked by the training dose of nicotine. However, a combination of mecamylamine and dextromethorphan partially blocked nicotine-evoked conditioned responding to a lower dose of nicotine (0.1 mg/kg). These results indicate that β2* and potentially α3β4* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors play a role in the CS effects of nicotine and are potential targets for the development of nicotine cessation aids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Dextromethorphan
  • Dihydro-β-erythroidine
  • Mecamylamine
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonism
  • Pavlovian drug discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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