Subtype-selective nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists enhance the responsiveness to citalopram and reboxetine in the mouse forced swim test

J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Oct;25(10):1347-56. doi: 10.1177/0269881110364271. Epub 2010 Apr 1.


Nicotine increases serotonergic and noradrenergic neuronal activity and facilitates serotonin and noradrenaline release. Accordingly, nicotine enhances antidepressant-like actions of reuptake inhibitors selective for serotonin or noradrenaline in the mouse forced swim test and the mouse tail suspension test. Both high-affinity α4β2 and low-affinity α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes are implicated in nicotine-mediated release of serotonin and noradrenaline. The present study therefore investigated whether selective agonism of α4β2 or α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors would affect the mouse forced swim test activity of two antidepressants with distinct mechanisms of action, namely the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram and the noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor reboxetine. Subthreshold and threshold doses of citalopram (3 and 10 mg/kg) or reboxetine (10 and 20 mg/kg) were tested alone and in combination with the novel α4β2-selective partial nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, NS3956 (0.3 and 1.0 mg/kg) or the α7-selective nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, PNU-282987 (10 and 30 mg/kg). Alone, NS3956 and PNU-282987 were devoid of activity in the mouse forced swim test, but both 1.0 mg/kg NS3956 and 30 mg/kg PNU-282987 enhanced the effect of citalopram and also reboxetine. The data suggest that the activity of citalopram and reboxetine in the mouse forced swim test can be enhanced by agonists at either α4β2 or α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, suggesting that both nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes may be involved in the nicotine-enhanced action of antidepressants.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Azepines / pharmacology*
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / pharmacology
  • Citalopram / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morpholines / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reboxetine
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology*
  • Swimming
  • Xenopus laevis
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor


  • 1-(5-chloropyridin-3-yl)-(1,4)diazepane
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Azepines
  • Benzamides
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Chrna7 protein, mouse
  • Chrna7 protein, rat
  • Morpholines
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • PNU-282987
  • Pyridines
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor
  • nicotinic receptor alpha4beta2
  • Citalopram
  • Reboxetine