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Behav Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;20(7):584-95. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e32832ec594.

Anxiolytic-like effects of the neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist GR-205171 in the elevated plus maze and contextual fear-potentiated startle model of anxiety in gerbils.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Gerbils show a neurokinin (NK)1 receptor pharmacological profile, which is similar to that observed in humans, and thus have become a commonly used species to test efficacy of NK1 receptor antagonists. The aim of this study was to determine whether systemic administration of the NK1 receptor antagonist GR-205171 produced anxiolytic-like effects in the elevated plus maze and in a novel contextual conditioned fear test using fear-potentiated startle (FPS). On the elevated plus maze, treatment with GR-205171 at 0, 0.3, 1.0, and 5.0 mg/kg doses, 30 min before testing produced anxiolytic-like effects in an increasing dose-response manner as measured by the percentage of open arm time and percentage of open arm entries. For contextual fear conditioning, gerbils were given 10 unsignaled footshocks (0.6 mA) at a 2-min variable interstimulus interval in a distinctive training context. Twenty-four hours after training, gerbils received treatment of GR-205171 at 0, 0.3, 1.0, and 5.0 mg/kg doses, 30 min before testing in which startle was elicited in the same context in which they were trained. Contextual FPS was defined as an increase in startle over pretraining baseline values. All drug dose levels (0.3, 1.0, and 5.0 mg/kg) significantly attenuated contextual FPS when compared with the vehicle control group. A control group, which received testing in a different context, showed little FPS. These findings support other evidence for anxiolytic activity of NK1 receptor antagonists and provide a novel conditioned fear test that may be an appropriate procedure to test other NK1 antagonists for preclinical anxiolytic activity in gerbils.

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