The discriminative stimulus effects of dopamine D2- and D3-preferring agonists in rats

Mikhail N. Koffarnus, Benjamin Greedy, Stephen M. Husbands, Peter Grundt, Amy Hauck Newman, James H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Rationale: Previous research has found the stimulus effects of dopamine D2- and D3-preferring agonists difficult to distinguish in drug discrimination studies. Antagonism studies suggest that the stimulus effects of both types of agonists may be mediated primarily through D2 receptors. Objectives: The current study was designed to further assess the receptors mediating the stimulus effects of these agonists and to attempt to train rats to discriminate directly between D2- and D3-preferring dopamine agonists. Materials and methods: Four groups of eight rats were trained to discriminate either 0.1 mg/kg of the D3-preferring agonist pramipexole from saline, 1.0 mg/kg of the D2-preferring agonist sumanirole from saline, 0.1 mg/kg pramipexole from either saline or 1.0 mg/kg sumanirole, or 1.0 mg/kg sumanirole from either saline or 0.1 mg/kg pramipexole. Results: Three of eight rats in the 0.1 mg/kg pramipexole vs. 1.0 mg/kg sumanirole or saline failed to meet the training criteria, and the discrimination in this group was tenuous. The D2-preferring antagonist L-741,626 at 1.0 mg/kg was more effective at shifting to the right the pramipexole dose-response curve in pramipexole-trained rats, while 32 mg/kg of the selective D3 antagonist PG01037 had little effect. Quinpirole and 7-OH-DPAT fully or partially substituted for both pramipexole and sumanirole in each group tested, while cocaine did not substitute in any group. Conclusions: Antagonist data along with the pattern of training and substitution data suggested that D2 receptor activation is primarily responsible for the stimulus effects of both sumanirole and pramipexole with D3 receptor activation playing little or no role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank Gail Winger and Emily Jutkiewicz for advice and guidance throughout the experiment and with manuscript preparation. The authors also thank Alexa Cohen, Simon Cohen, Antwan Hall, Eugene Kligman, Elizabeth Kossak, Jennifer Montgomery, Nathaniel Reichwage, and Emily West for technical assistance. This research was supported by USPHS/NIDA grants R01 DA020669 and T32 DA007267. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.


  • D2
  • D3
  • Dopamine
  • Drug discrimination
  • Either/or discrimination
  • Pramipexole
  • Rat
  • Sumanirole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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