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Sensitisation of withdrawal signs following repeated withdrawal from a benzodiazepine: differences between measures of anxiety and seizure sensitivity

By B O Ward and D N Stephens

Abstract

Three experiments examined the effect of either withdrawal from diazepam, or repeated treatment with the convulsant, pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), on behaviour and seizure threshold. The behaviours measured were on the elevated plus maze and in the four-plate test; seizure threshold was measured as dose of PTZ infused via the tail vein to the first clonic twitch. In experiment 1, we examined the effect of either single or repeated withdrawal from diazepam using a procedure in which the drug was administered SC in a slow release depot. Three cycles of withdrawal from diazepam were compared to a single withdrawal experience. A single withdrawal from diazepam following chronic treatment gave rise, 72 h following the last dosing, to behavioural changes, suggestive of anxiety, in both tests, but did not result in a reduced convulsant threshold. In contrast, repeated withdrawal resulted in a reduction in sensitivity in several measures of anxiety, but sensitised the mice to the convulsive effects of the PTZ. The unexpected failure to find an increased sensitivity to a convulsive agent following a single withdrawal from SC diazepam was examined in experiment 2. The seizure threshold following a single withdrawal of mice which had received diazepam chronically IP in aqueous vehicle was significantly reduced relative to vehicle-treated controls, whereas that of animals receiving the same close SC in oil, was not. It is argued that the difference may arise from the animals treated repeatedly with IP diazepam unintentionally experiencing repeated withdrawal, since the half-life of the drug by this route is short. In experiment 3, repeated sub-convulsant PTZ treatment reduced the convulsant threshold (the dose of PTZ required to give rise to the first clonic twitch), but had no significant effect on the behavioural measures of anxiety compared to a single dose of PTZ or vehicle controls. The results suggest that repeated withdrawal from chronic treatments with diazepam sensitises mice to convulsant stimuli in a manner resembling the effects of repeated administration of sub-convulsant doses of PTZ, but that neither repeated PTZ nor repeated diazepam withdrawal results in increased sensitivity to anxiogenic stimuli; rather, repeated withdrawal from diazepam may reduce the susceptibility of mice to behavioural measures of anxiety

Publisher: Springer
Year: 1998
OAI identifier: oai:sro.sussex.ac.uk:13316
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