Flumazenil blockade of anxiety following ethanol withdrawal in rats
- Cite this article as:
- Moy, S., Knapp, D., Criswell, H. et al. Psychopharmacology (1997) 131: 354. doi:10.1007/s002130050303
- 64 Downloads
In previous research, the drug flumazenil has been categorized both as a pure benzodiazepine antagonist and as a benzodiazepine partial agonist. The following studies used an elevated plus maze to test whether flumazenil would exert any antianxiety action in rats. While chlordiazepoxide (3.0 mg/kg), ethanol (0.75 g/kg), and the atypical benzodiazepine zolpidem (1.0 mg/kg) all significantly increased time spent on the open arms and percent open arm entries, flumazenil (1–10 mg/kg) alone did not produce any anxiolytic effects on the maze. Withdrawal from chronic ethanol treatment led to a decrease in open arm time and percent open arm entries. Flumazenil (3.0 mg/kg) blocked these changes, suggesting that the effects of flumazenil are at least partially dependent upon the levels of stress or anxiety in the subjects. An anxiolytic action of flumazenil was not seen following the central administration of the neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which reduced open arm time on the elevated plus maze. These results support the hypothesis that the mechanism of action for flumazenil effects on the anxiety observed during ethanol withdrawal involves antagonism of an endogenous benzodiazepine inverse agonist, rather than activity as a partial agonist or blockade of CRF-mediated effects.