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Serotonergic mechanisms involved in the attentional and vigilance task performance of rats and the palliative action of aniracetam.

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CNS Supporting Laboratory, Nippon Roche Research Centre, Kajiwara, Kamakura, Japan.


Central serotonergic systems play an important role in regulating mood/emotion, cognition, sleep and wakefulness, appetite and locomotion and body temperature via multiple receptor subtypes. Among them, 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A/2C receptors have opposite effects with respect to certain functions. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT), a selective 5-HT1A receptor agonist, and 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI), a selective 5-HT2A/2C receptor agonist, on the performance of middle-aged rats in a two-lever choice reaction task that assessed attention and vigilance functions. We also examined the effects of aniracetam, a cognition enhancer, and its major metabolites on the induced performance impairments. 8-OH-DPAT (0.3 mg/kg s.c.) reduced response speed and choice accuracy and increased response omission with a reduction of task-associated motor activity without inducing motor inability or motivational changes. These findings indicate a specific disturbance of attentional and vigilance processes. DOI caused similar impairments at the highest dose tested (3 mg/kg s.c.); at a lower dose (1 mg/kg s.c.), however, it selectively attenuated the response speed, suggesting a selective attention deficit. (-)-Alprenolol, a non-selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and ritanserin, a preferential 5-HT2A receptor antagonist, blocked the 8-OH-DPAT- and DOI-induced performance impairments respectively. Aniracetam ameliorated all the performance deficits, and the metabolites N-anisoyl-GABA and 2-pyrrolidinone partially mimicked the aniracetam effect in the 8-OHDPAT-induced attentional and vigilance impairments. Nefiracetam, another cognition enhancer, improved only the 8-OH-DPAT-induced impairments. Each compound tested alone had no effect on task performance. These results indicate that both serotonergic regulations, possibly via presynaptic 5-HT1A receptors and more likely via postsynaptic 5-HT2A receptors, lead similarly to attention deficits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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