Rationale: The role of different types of GABA(A) receptors in mediating anticonflict and response rate-decreasing effects of benzodiazepines in primate species is not known.
Objective: To examine the behavioral effects of the benzodiazepine-site, GABA(A) agonists zolpidem, zaleplon, and midazolam in the presence of two antagonists, flumazenil and beta-carboline-3-carboxylate-t-butyl ester (beta-CCt) in squirrel monkeys.
Methods: Two schedules of operant responding were used: (1) a multiple fixed-ratio (FR) schedule of food presentation involving punished and nonpunished behavior, and (2) an FR schedule of stimulus shock-termination.
Results: Midazolam (0.03-1.0 mg/kg), zolpidem (0.1-3.0 mg/kg), and zaleplon (0.1-3.0 mg/kg) increased rates of punished responding and decreased rates of nonpunished responding under the multiple schedule. Pretreatment with flumazenil (0.3-1.0 mg/kg) antagonized the anticonflict and response rate-decreasing effects of all three agonists. Pretreatment with beta-CCt (3-10 mg/kg) antagonized the anticonflict and rate-decreasing effects of midazolam, as well as the rate-decreasing effects of zolpidem and zaleplon. However, beta-CCt did not antagonize the anticonflict effects of zolpidem and zaleplon; instead, these effects of zolpidem and zaleplon were apparently enhanced in the presence of beta-CCt. Under the schedule of stimulus shock-termination, both flumazenil and beta-CCt antagonized zolpidem and zaleplon; however, the effects of beta-CCt were less consistent than the effects of flumazenil.
Conclusion: In nonhuman primates, different types of GABAA receptors may mediate the anticonflict and the response rate-decreasing effects of the nonselective GABAA agonist midazolam and the selective GABAA1 agonists zolpidem and zaleplon.