Nicotinic partial agonists varenicline and sazetidine-A have differential effects on affective behavior

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010 Aug;334(2):665-72. doi: 10.1124/jpet.110.166280. Epub 2010 Apr 30.


Clinical and preclinical studies suggest that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are involved in affective disorders; therefore, the potential therapeutic value of nicotinic partial agonists as treatments of these disorders is of growing interest. This study evaluated the effects of acute and chronic administration of nicotine and the alpha4beta2 nicotinic partial agonists varenicline and sazetidine-A in mouse models of anxiety and depression. Acutely, only nicotine and varenicline had anxiolytic effects in the marble-burying test and in the novelty-induced hypophagia (NIH) test. In contrast, in animal models of antidepressant efficacy, such as the forced swim and the tail suspension test, only acute sazetidine-A had significant antidepressant-like effects. The NIH test provides an anxiety-related measure that is sensitive to the effects of chronic but not acute antidepressant treatment. Chronic nicotine and chronic sazetidine-A treatment were effective in this paradigm, but varenicline was ineffective. These results suggest that the partial agonists varenicline and sazetidine-A may have diverse therapeutic benefits in affective disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Azetidines / pharmacology*
  • Azetidines / therapeutic use
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology*
  • Benzazepines / therapeutic use
  • Chimera
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / psychology
  • Drug Partial Agonism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology*
  • Quinoxalines / therapeutic use
  • Varenicline


  • Azetidines
  • Benzazepines
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Pyridines
  • Quinoxalines
  • sazetidine-A
  • Nicotine
  • Varenicline