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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Aug 1;165:265-9. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.05.029. Epub 2016 Jun 8.

Self-administration of progesterone and synthetic neuroactive steroids by male rhesus monkeys.

Author information

1
Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA; New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772, USA.
2
Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA; Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA; New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772, USA; Tulane National Primate Research Center, Tulane University School of Medicine, Covington, LA 70433, USA. Electronic address: jrowlett@umc.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Progesterone-derived neuroactive steroids have shown promise clinically (e.g., anti-seizure medications) but, as with other GABAA receptor modulators (e.g., benzodiazepines), may have the potential for abuse.

METHODS:

We evaluated the reinforcing effects of progesterone, a steroid precursor of endogenous neuroactive steroids, with and without pretreatments with the neuroactive steroid synthesis inhibitor, finasteride, in rhesus monkeys trained under a progressive-ratio (PR) schedule of i.v. midazolam injection. We also assessed reinforcing effects of the short-acting neuroactive steroid alphaxolone and the long-acting neuroactive steroid ganaxolone in comparison with the short-acting benzodiazepine triazolam and the long-acting benzodiazepine clonazepam.

RESULTS:

At least one dose of progesterone, alphaxolone, and ganaxolone was self-administered significantly above vehicle levels in all monkeys tested (n=4 for progesterone, n=3 for alphaxolone and ganaxolone). The 5α-reductase inhibitor finasteride attenuated progesterone self-administration, consistent with the reinforcing effects of progesterone being mediated by the in vivo synthesis of neuroactive steroids. The comparison drugs, triazolam and clonazepam, were self-administered significantly above vehicle by all monkeys. Although the maximum number of injections/session maintained by the neuroactive steroids was below that maintained by the midazolam training dose, analysis of break points (i.e., highest response requirement achieved) suggested modest differences in relative reinforcing effectiveness for neuroactive steroids compared with benzodiazepines.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results are consistent with endogenous and synthetic neuroactive steroids having reinforcing effects similar to that of benzodiazepines, with reinforcing effectiveness possibly lower for the neuroactive steroids compared with benzodiazepines based on some measures.

KEYWORDS:

Benzodiazepine; GABA(A) receptor; Neuroactive steroid; Reinforcement; Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta); Self-administration

PMID:
27302854
PMCID:
PMC4939097
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.05.029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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