Effect of nicotine on quinpirole-induced checking behavior in rats: implications for obsessive-compulsive disorder
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BACKGROUND: Rats treated chronically in a large, open field with the dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist quinpirole (QNP) develop compulsive checking behavior as defined by a set of behavioral criteria. This paradigm has been suggested as an animal model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Because nicotine blocks various behaviors induced by ontogenetic QNP administration, we asked whether nicotine could attenuate QNP-induced compulsive checking. METHODS: Adult male Long-Evans rats (n = 14/group) were treated twice weekly with saline (control), or with QNP (0.5 mg/kg) for 14-16 injections. On the last two injections, rats were pretreated in random order with an acute dose of nicotine (0.3 mg/kg base) or saline 10 min before administration of QNP or saline; and the effects on checking behavior was examined. The effects of chronic QNP treatment on nicotinic receptors in discrete brain regions were also determined. RESULTS: Chronic QNP resulted in compulsive checking and increases in cerebellar alpha4beta2 and alpha7 nicotinic receptor densities. Nicotine pretreatment significantly reduced one of the three measures of compulsive checking behavior. CONCLUSIONS: Nicotine attenuates some symptoms of compulsive checking in a rat model of OCD; however, the mechanisms of this effect and therapeutic efficacy of nicotinic agonists in OCD require further study.
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