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Role of the NMDA receptor NR2B subunit in the discriminative stimulus effects of ketamine

De Vry, J.; Jentzsch, K.R.

Original Articles

The noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, ketamine, is a dissociative anesthetic with antihyperalgesic properties. However, its clinical use is compromised by psychotomimetic side-effects. As ketamine and other noncompetitive NMDA antagonists, such as phencyclidine and dizocilpine, are not selective for the NR2A–2D subunits of the NMDA receptor, it is unclear which of these subunits is responsible for the psychotomimetic side-effects. This study investigated the role of the NR2B subunit in the ketamine drug discrimination model, a possible correlate for such side-effects. In a first experiment aimed at assessing general potency and time dependency, ketamine, dizocilpine, phencyclidine and the NR2B-selective antagonists ifenprodil and Ro 25-6981, dose-dependently suppressed fixed ratio 10 food-reinforced responding in rats, with peak efficacy obtained around 15–40 min. In rats trained to discriminate ketamine from vehicle in a two-lever fixed ratio 10 food-reinforced procedure, ketamine, dizocilpine, phencyclidine and Ro 25-6981 induced complete generalization (>80%); whereas ifenprodil induced partial generalization (33%). These findings suggest that the NR2B subunit is involved in the discriminative stimulus effects of noncompetitive NMDA antagonists, and that selective NR2B antagonists may also induce psychotomimetic side-effects.

CNS Research, Bayer Health Care, Aprather Weg 18a, 42096 Wuppertal, Germany

Correspondence and requests for reprints to J. De Vry, CNS Research, Bayer Health Care, Aprather Weg 18a, 42096 Wuppertal, Germany.


Received 15 December 2002 Accepted as revised 5 February 2003

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.