Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Behavioral effects of nicotine and cytisine, and the cholinesterase inhibitors physostigmine and 9-amino-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroacridine (THA), administered intrathecally (IT) at the lumbar level in the rat have been evaluated. Antinociceptive dose relationships were established using the tail immersion test. Total activity, locomotion and rearing were also measured in computerized test boxes. The nicotinic receptor antagonist, mecamylamine, and the muscarinic receptor antagonist, atropine, were used to study the selectivity of the effects. Physostigmine and THA significantly decreased total activity, locomotion and rearing as compared to control animals. The motor effects of physostigmine were completely antagonized by atropine whereas those of THA were antagonized only partly. Mecamylamine had no antagonistic effect. Nicotine did not affect any activity parameter. Cytisin reduced total activity and locomotion 1–6 min after dose. IT physostigmine, 15 µg, increased tail immersion latency for 30 min. No significant increase in response latency in this test was observed after the IT administration of nicotine or THA, whereas cytisine elicited a small increase. The IT administration of THA, nicotine and cytisine was also associated with gnawing, vocalization and hyperactivity and in the case of THA, diarrhoea. These effects were blocked by mecamylamine. Physostigmine antinociception as well as the behavioral effects including total activity, locomotion and rearing caused by physostigmine and by THA are most probably due to an action on spinal muscarinic receptors. Nicotinic receptors do not seem to be involved in spinal antinociception. Some aversive behavioral effects caused by the IT administration of nicotinic receptor agonists could, however, be attenuated by the spinal administration of the antagonist mecamylamine, which may indicate the involvement of nicotinic receptors in afferent sensory transmission.
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