Depletion of brain norepinephrine:
differential influence on anxiolyic treatment effects

Fontana DJ, McMiller LV Jr, Commissaris RL
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
College of Pharmacy & AHP,
Wayne State University,
Detroit, MI 48202, USA.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999 Apr; 143(2):197-208


RATIONALE: Previous studies have demonstrated that anxiolytic-like anticonflict effects can be produced by either (1) acute administration of traditional anti-anxiety compounds (benzodiazepines or barbiturates) or (2) chronic administration of tricyclic (TCA) or monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) anti-depressants. OBJECTIVE: The present study determined the effects of noradrenergic neuronal depletion on these distinct anticonflict treatments. METHODS: After 3 weeks of training in a repeated measures drink suppression conflict paradigm, water-restricted rats consumed 11-14 ml water/session (unpunished responding) and accepted 25-40 shocks/session (punished responding) during control (i.e., non-drug) 10-min test sessions. The noradrenergic neurotoxin DSP4 [N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine hydrochloride; 65 mg/kg, IP] or its vehicle (saline; 1 ml/kg) was administered after 3 weeks of conflict testing. Conflict behavior was then evaluated for 8 weeks post-treatment. In separate groups of DSP4- and vehicle-pretreated subjects, the effects of acute administration (10-min pretreatment) of phenobarbital (5-40 mg/kg) or alprazolam (0.3-2.5 mg/kg) were determined. In a third experiment, the effects of chronic treatment with the TCA desipramine (DMI; 5 mg/kg, twice daily for 8 weeks) or the non-selective MAOI phenelzine (4.0 mg/kg, twice daily for 8 weeks) on conflict behavior were determined in additional groups of DSP4- or vehicle-pretreated subjects. RESULTS: DSP4 treatment produced a modest yet statistically significant decrease in punished responding (i.e., anxiogenic-like effect) relative to vehicle controls. DSP4 pretreatment did not alter the anticonflict effects of acute alprazolam or phenobarbital treatment. In contrast, DSP4 treatment completely abolished the anticonflict effects produced by chronic DMI or chronic phenelzine treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, noradrenergic neuronal integrity appears to be required for the anxiolytic-like effects of chronic antidepressant treatment, but not for the anxiolytic-like effects of acute treatment with barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Catecholamine depletion
Alpha2-adrenergic receptors
Noradrenaline and the hedonic properties of drugs

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