Kappa opioid receptors mediate yohimbine-induced increases in impulsivity in the 5-choice serial reaction time task

Behav Brain Res. 2019 Feb 1;359:258-265. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.11.006. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


Dynorphin (DYN), and its receptor, the kappa opioid receptor (KOR) are involved in drug seeking and relapse but the mechanisms are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that DYN/KOR activation promotes drug seeking through increased impulsivity, because many stimuli that induce DYN release increase impulsivity. Here, we systematically compare the effects of drugs that activate DYN/KOR on performance on the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT), a test of sustained attention and impulsivity. In Experiment 1, we determined the effects of U50,488 (0, 2.5, 5 mg/kg), yohimbine (0, 1.25, 2.5 mg/kg), and nicotine (0, 0.15, 0.3 mg/kg) on 5-CSRTT performance. In Experiment 2, we determined the effects of alcohol (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 g/kg) on 5-CSRTT performance before and after voluntary, intermittent alcohol exposure. In Experiment 3, we determined the potential role of KOR in the pro-impulsive effects of yohimbine (1.25 mg/kg) and nicotine (0.3 mg/kg) by the prior administration of the KOR antagonist nor-BNI (10 mg/kg). Premature responding, the primary measure of impulsivity, was reduced by U50,488 and alcohol, but these drugs had a general suppressive effect. Yohimbine and nicotine increased premature responding. Yohimbine-, but not nicotine-induced increases in premature responding were blocked by nor-BNI, suggesting that impulsivity induced by yohimbine is KOR dependent. This may suggests a potential role for KOR-mediated increases in impulsivity in yohimbine-induced reinstatement.

Keywords: Alcohol; Impulsivity; Kappa opioid; Nicotine; Stress; Yohimbine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dichloro-N-methyl-N-(2-(1-pyrrolidinyl)-cyclohexyl)-benzeneacetamide, (trans)-Isomer / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attention / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Impulsive Behavior / drug effects*
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology*
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / metabolism*
  • Yohimbine / pharmacology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Yohimbine
  • Ethanol
  • 3,4-Dichloro-N-methyl-N-(2-(1-pyrrolidinyl)-cyclohexyl)-benzeneacetamide, (trans)-Isomer
  • Nicotine