Send to

Choose Destination
Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2019 May;45(5):861-867. doi: 10.1080/03639045.2019.1578787. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Nicotine-like discriminative stimulus effects of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and a muscarinic receptor agonist in Rhesus monkeys.

Author information

a Department of Pharmacodynamics , College of Pharmacy, University of Florida , Gainesville , FL , USA.


Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors and positive allosteric nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) modulators are potential pharmacotherapies for nicotine dependence. Because some smoking cessation aids (e.g. varenicline) appear to work by mimicking the effects of nicotine, we used drug discrimination to examine whether AChE inhibitors and nAChR allosteric modulators mimic the effects of nicotine. Rhesus monkeys discriminated 1.78 mg/kg of nicotine s.c. under an FR5 schedule of stimulus-shock termination. Nicotine and the AChE inhibitors donepezil and galantamine dose-dependently increased responding on the nicotine-appropriate lever with ED50 values of 0.35, 0.22, and 0.77 mg/kg, respectively. Donepezil (0.56 mg/kg) produced nicotine-like effects for at least 6 h, whereas the duration of action of galantamine (1.78 mg/kg) was less than 3 h. The positive allosteric nAChR modulator PNU-120596 (up to 10 mg/kg) and midazolam (up to 1.0 mg/kg) produced no more than 22% nicotine-lever responding. Oxotremorine, a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor agonist that was used to explore the extent to which muscarinic receptor agonism might contribute to the effects of AChE inhibitors, produced 94% nicotine-lever responding (ED50 value 0.013 mg/kg). The muscarinic antagonist atropine significantly antagonized the effects of both oxotremorine and nicotine; however, the dose of atropine antagonizing oxotremorine was smaller than the dose required to antagonize nicotine. Collectively, these results suggest that AChE inhibitors can mimic the effects of nicotine by indirectly stimulating both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. Inasmuch as some smoking cessation aids work by exerting nicotine-like effects, the current results are consistent with the potential use of AChE inhibitors as novel smoking cessation aids.


Nicotine; donepezil; drug development; galantamine; smoking cessation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center