Research interests regarding the psychopharmacology of salvinorin A have been motivated by the recreational use and widespread media focus on the hallucinogenic plant, Salvia divinorum. Additionally, kappa opioid (KOP) receptor ligands may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of some neuropsychiatric conditions, including drug dependence and mood disorders. Salvinorin A is a selective KOP agonist, but only a few studies have explored the discriminative stimulus effects of this compound. This study compared the discriminative stimulus effects of salvinorin A and two synthetic derivatives of salvinorin B to the KOP agonists, U69,593 and U50,488. Sixteen male Sprague-Dawley rats trained to discriminate U69,593 (0.13 mg/kg, s.c., N = 8) or U50,488 (3.0 mg/kg, i.p., N = 8) under a fixed-ratio 20 schedule of food reinforcement were administered substitution tests with salvinorin A (0.125-3.0 mg/kg, i.p.). The animals trained to discriminate U69,593 were also administered substitution tests with salvinorin B ethoxymethyl ether (0.005-0.10 mg/kg, i.p.) and salvinorin B methoxymethyl ether (0.03-0.10 mg/kg, i.p.). Another eight rats were trained to discriminate 2.0 mg/kg salvinorin A and tested with U69,593 (0.04-0.32 mg/kg) and U50,488 (0.4-3.2 mg/kg). Salvinorin A and both synthetic derivatives of salvinorin B substituted completely for U69,593. Additionally, cross-generalization was observed between salvinorin A and both KOP agonists. These findings support previous reports indicating that the discriminative stimulus effects of salvinorin A are mediated by kappa receptors. Future studies may assist in the development and screening of salvinorin A analogs for potential pharmacotherapy.
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