• Use-dependent Antagonism of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors as a Novel Treatment for Drug Addiction

      Hall, Brandon J; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology (2011-11)
      The contributions of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) to the onset and maintenance of drug addiction are well known, but these receptors are too often overlooked as potential targets for addiction treatment. The goal of this study was to demonstrate that use-dependent antagonism of nAChRs by the compound bis (2, 2, 6, 6-tetramethyl-4-piperidinyl) sebacate (BTMPS) offers a novel approach to treatment for drug addiction, and that positive outcomes of this treatment can be demonstrated across different classes of abusive drugs, nicotine or morphine in all three phases of an animal model of what is known as the drug abuse cycle: 1) binge-intoxication, 2) withdrawal-negative affect, and 3) preoccupation-anticipation. Different groups of rats were allowed to self-administer drugs of abuse (nicotine or morphine) on a 24 hr basis for a period of 14 days to establish binge-intoxication. Upon completion of self-administration, each rat was evaluated for withdrawal-negative affect. Subsequent to acute withdrawal the rats were placed in standard housing cages for a period of six weeks. At the end of the six week period, each rat was examined for unrewarded drug seeking responses, or preoccupation-anticipation, for another 14 day period preoccupation-anticipation. Injections of vehicle or BTMPS were administered to the animals during each behavioral phase of the study. Treatment with BTMPS significantly reduced the self-administration of both nicotine and morphine compared to vehicle treated animals. BTMPS treated animals also displayed reduced acute withdrawal symptoms when compared to their vehicle treated counterparts. When intervention occurred during self-administration or acute withdrawal, BTMPS treatment resulted in a significant reduction in drug-seeking responses after a protracted period of abstinence from drug. However, delaying treatment with the compound until the drug seeking phase of the study was ineffective against reducing drug seeking behavior. Administration of BTMPS alone did not appear to elicit adverse side effects in the animals, neither affecting their motivation to obtain food nor compromising the animals' performance during the behavioral procedures in the study. Thus, the resultsof this study support the hypothesis that use-dependent antagonism of nAChRs offers the potential for an alternative approach to treatment of substance abuse and drug addiction.