Effects of the GABA receptor agonist phenibut on behavior and respiration in rabbits in emotionally negative situations

Neurosci Behav Physiol. 2008 Jul;38(6):555-62. doi: 10.1007/s11055-008-9025-2. Epub 2008 Jul 8.


Three groups of rabbits differing in terms of movement activity in an open field (active, passive, and intermediate animals) were used to study the effects of systemic administration of the GABA receptor agonist phenibut (40 mg/kg, s.c.) on behavior in the open field, behavioral reactivity, and changes in measures of respiration during exposure to emotionally negative stimuli. Phenibut administration led to decreases in horizontal movement activity and some elements of investigative behavior in rabbits in the open field, along with decreases in the reactivity of the animals to emotionally significant stimuli. There were reductions in the probabilities of both active (orientational-investigative, active defensive) and passive defensive (freezing) reactions. The effects of phenibut depended on the typological characteristics of the rabbits: its actions on behavior were most marked in active rabbits and were less marked in passive animals; phenibut had virtually no effect on the behavior of intermediate rabbits. The duration of inhalation by the rabbits on exposure to emotionally significant stimuli increased after phenibut, which contrasted with a reduction seen in normal animals; this is evidence for changes in the autonomic reactivity of the animals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / drug effects
  • GABA Agents / pharmacology*
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Rabbits
  • Respiratory Mechanics / drug effects*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • GABA Agents
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid