Zolpidem behavioral pharmacology in baboons: Self-injection, discrimination, tolerance and withdrawal

R. R. Griffiths, C. A. Sannerud, N. A. Ator, J. V. Brady

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114 Scopus citations


This study examined in baboons various behavioral effects of zolpidem, a short-acting imidazopyridine hypnotic which has selectivity for subtypes of the benzodiazepine receptor. Intravenous drug self-injection was studied under a fixed-ratio 80- or 160-response schedule with a 3-hr timeout after each injection. Maximal rates of self-injection maintained by zolpidem (0.01- 1 mg/kg) were consistently higher than those maintained by vehicle and the benzodiazepine hypnotic triazolam. Substitution of vehicle after about 2 weeks of zolpidem self-injection (7-8 mg/kg/day) resulted in a time-limited suppression of food pellet intake, indicating a drug withdrawal effect. In a drug discrimination study, baboons were trained to discriminate either lorazepam (1.8 mg/kg p.o.) or pentobarbital (10 mg/kg p.o.) from the no-drug condition. Zolpidem (0.1-18 mg/kg p.o.) occasioned both lorazepam- and pentobarbital-appropriate responding (>80%) in a dose-dependent manner. In a final experiment, zolpidem (3.2 or 5.6 mg/kg i.m.) produced ataxia and sedation that progressively decreased over 7 consecutive days of administration. The withdrawal, discriminative stimulus effects and tolerance shown with zolpidem were similar to those shown previously with benzodiazepines under similar conditions. The rates of self-injection of zolpidem were similar to those maintained by intermediate duration barbiturates (e.g., pentobarbital) and higher than those maintained by 11 benzodiazepines studied previously under similar conditions. Further research on the reinforcing effects of zolpidem may provide useful insights into mechanisms underlying the maintenance of behavior by compounds acting through the benzodiazepine receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1208
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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