A variety of behavioral procedures have been developed to assess cannabinoid activity in mice; however, the feasibility of establishing Delta(9)-THC as a discriminative stimulus in mice has not been documented.
One goal was to establish Delta(9)-THC as a discriminative stimulus in mice; after having done so, another goal was to examine the in vivo mechanism of action of Delta(9)-THC with other cannabinoids and noncannabinoids.
C57BL/6J mice (n = 8) were trained to discriminate Delta(9)-THC (10 mg/kg i.p.) from vehicle while responding under a fixed ratio 30 schedule of food presentation.
Mice satisfied the discrimination criteria in 18-98 (median = 67) sessions and the discriminative stimulus effects of Delta(9)-THC were dose-dependent (ED(50) = 2.6 mg/kg). CP 55940 and WIN 55212-2 dose-dependently increased Delta(9)-THC-appropriate responding to 100% (ED(50) = 0.032 and 0.45 mg/kg, respectively), whereas methanandamide and a variety of noncannabinoids (cocaine, ethanol, and ketamine) produced a maximum of 34% Delta(9)-THC-appropriate responding. The cannabinoid CB(1) antagonist SR 141716A (rimonabant) surmountably antagonized the discriminative effects of Delta(9)-THC, CP 55940, and WIN 55212-2; methanandamide did not significantly modify the Delta(9)-THC discriminative stimulus.
The discriminative stimulus effects of Delta(9)-THC, CP 55940, and WIN 55212-2 are mediated by the same (i.e., CB(1)) receptors, whereas the effects of methanandamide or a metabolite of methanandamide are mediated at least in part by non-CB(1) receptors. The discriminative stimulus effects of Delta(9)-THC in mice could be used to evaluate mechanisms of cannabinoid activity with approaches (e.g., inducible knockouts) currently unavailable in nonmurine species.