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Behav Pharmacol. 2013 Oct;24(7):617-22. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e3283654216.

Contribution of NMDA glutamate and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor mechanisms in the discrimination of ethanol-nicotine mixtures.

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Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Division of Neuroscience Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97006, USA.


Ethanol and nicotine are commonly coabused drugs, and the incidence of codependence is greater than would be expected on the basis of the summed probability of dependence on each drug alone. Previous findings from our laboratory and others suggest that interactive mechanisms at the level of discriminative stimulus (S(D)) effects may contribute to this coabuse phenomenon. Specifically, ethanol overshadows the nicotine S(D) whereas nicotine potentiates the stimulus salience of ethanol when the two drugs are conditioned as a drug mixture. The goal of the current study was to begin to delineate the pharmacological bases of these ethanol-nicotine interactions. Three groups of C57BL/6J mice were trained to discriminate 0.8 mg/kg nicotine + 0.5 g/kg ethanol (0.8 N + 0.5 E), 0.8 N + 1.0 E, or 0.8 N + 2.0 E. An NMDA receptor antagonist (MK-801) and three nACh receptor ligands were tested for their ability to generalize from or antagonize, respectively, the drug mixtures. MK-801 fully generalized from the 0.8 N + 1.0 E and 0.8 N + 2.0 E mixtures and partially generalized from 0.8 N + 0.5 E. In contrast, nACh receptor ligands had minimal influence in blocking the perception of 0.8 N + 1.0 E and 0.8 N + 2.0 E mixtures, and only mecamylamine partially blocked 0.8 N+0.5 E. Reduced and enhanced contributions of nACh and NMDA receptors, respectively, in the discrimination of ethanol-nicotine mixtures may contribute to the overshadowing and potentiation phenomena observed previously.

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