Characterization of the discriminative stimulus effects of N-methyl-D-aspartate ligands under different ethanol training conditions in the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis)

Jeffrey A. Vivian, Courtney A. Waters, Kendall T. Szeliga, Kristen Jordan, Kathleen A. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Rationale: The current study was designed to extend our knowledge of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor system in mediating the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol in non-human primates. Objectives: To characterize the discriminative stimulus effects of the NMDA uncompetitive antagonists dizocilpine, phencyclidine (PCP) and ketamine in male and female monkeys under different ethanol training conditions. Methods: Adult male (n=8) and female (n=9) cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were divided into four groups and trained to discriminate 1.0 g/kg ethanol (n=8) versus water or 2.0 g/kg ethanol (n=9) versus water in a 2±2 design with training dose and sex as main group factors. Ethanol (20% w/v) solutions were administered intragastrically (IG) and responding was maintained under a fixed ratio schedule of food reinforcement. Dose-response determinations for dizocilpine [IG and intramuscular (IM)], PCP (IM) and ketamine (IM) were made under two training intervals (30 and 60 min). Results: Dizocilpine, PCP and ketamine dose-dependently substituted for ethanol in three of four training conditions, the notable exception being in males trained with 2.0 g/kg ethanol. Ethanol-like discriminative stimulus effects were greater with IM dizocilpine than with IG dizocilpine. At the lower ethanol training dose (1.0 g/kg), there were no sex differences in the ethanol-like discriminative stimulus effects of dizocilpine, PCP or ketamine, nor were there sex differences in the potencies to produce ethanol-like discriminative stimulus effects. Sex differences were readily apparent with the higher ethanol training dose (2.0 g/kg), with the NMDA ligands failing to substitute for ethanol in male monkeys, probably due to the rate-suppressive effects of these compounds. Conclusions: These data suggest that NMDA receptor-mediated activity is a component to the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol in male and female nonhuman primates. However, NMDA uncompetitive antagonists were less likely to produce discriminative stimulus effects similar to a high ethanol training dose in male monkeys. In comparison to consistent substitution bypositive modulators GABAA for ethanol, substitution patterns produced by NMDA uncompetitive antagonists suggest a less robust mediation of the ethanol discriminative stimulus through NMDA receptor systems in nonhuman primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Drug discrimination
  • Ethanol
  • Glutamate receptors
  • Monkey
  • NMDA
  • Sex difference
  • Training dose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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