Behavioral effects of different enriched environments in mice treated with the cholinergic agonist PNU-282987

Environmental enrichment is an experimental model in which rodents are housed in complex environments that favor lower levels of anxiety-like behavior. PNU-282987 (PNU) is a α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist with beneficial effects on learning though its effects on anxiety are unclear. Our main aim was to carry out a study of its effects in NMRI (n = 96) mice reared in different environments: environmental enrichment (EE), Marlau™ cages (MC) and standard environment (SE). After a 4-month period, mice received acute treatment of PNU (2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg) and were evaluated in the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and hole-board (HB). In the EPM, both EE and MC reared mice showed an increase in percentage of entries into open arms while those from EE group differed from SE in time spent on open arms. Mice treated with 2.5 and 10 mg/kg of PNU devoted less time to rearing into open arms. In the HB task, MC mice displayed higher exploratory activity reflected in more head-dips (HD) during the first minute than EE and SE, whereas EE displayed low exploration levels reflected in total HD (5 min). Further research is needed in order to clarify the behavioral effects of this nicotinic agonist in interaction with different environmental conditions