Medical College of Wisconsin
CTSICores SearchResearch InformaticsREDCap

Abuse-related effects of subtype-selective GABAA receptor positive allosteric modulators in an assay of intracranial self-stimulation in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2017 Jul;234(14):2091-2101



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85016514074   7 Citations


RATIONALE: GABAA positive allosteric modulators (GABAA PAMs), such as diazepam and zolpidem, are used clinically for anxiety and insomnia, but abuse liability is a concern. Novel GABAA PAMS may have lower abuse liability while retaining clinical utility.

OBJECTIVE: The present study compared abuse-related effects of the non-selective GABAA PAM diazepam, the α1-selective GABAA PAM zolpidem, and three novel GABAA PAMs (JY-XHe-053, XHe-II-053, and HZ-166) using intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) in rats. These novel compounds have relatively low efficacy at α1-, α2-, and α3-containing GABAA receptors, putative in vivo selectivity at α2/α3-containing GABAA receptors, and produce anxiolytic-like effects with limited sedation in non-human primates.

METHODS: Adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 17) were each implanted with a bipolar electrode in the medial forebrain bundle and trained to respond under a fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement for electrical brain stimulation. The potency and time course of effects were compared for diazepam (0.1-10 mg/kg), zolpidem (0.032-3.2 mg/kg), and the three novel compounds (JY-XHe-053, XHe-II-053, and HZ-166; all 3.2-32 mg/kg).

RESULTS: Zolpidem and diazepam produced transient facilitation of ICSS at small doses and more sustained rate-decreasing effects at larger doses. JY-XHe-053 and HZ-166 produced weak and inconsistent ICSS facilitation, whereas XHe-II-053 had no effect on ICSS.

CONCLUSIONS: These results support a key role for α1-containing GABAA receptors in mediating GABAA PAM-induced ICSS facilitation. These results are concordant with drug self-administration studies in monkeys in suggesting that GABAA PAMs with low α1 efficacy and putative α2/α3 selectivity have lower abuse liability than high-efficacy non-selective or α1-selective GABAA PAMs.

Author List

Schwienteck KL, Li G, Poe MM, Cook JM, Banks ML, Stevens Negus S


James M. Cook PhD University Distinguished Professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Anti-Anxiety Agents
Medial Forebrain Bundle
Rats, Sprague-Dawley
Receptors, GABA-A
Self Administration
Self Stimulation