Health hazards associated with nicotine and tobacco use are well known. A contributing factor, the dependence producing potential of this drug, has become widely accepted. However, there are only a few human and animal studies that provide objective measures of the behavioral consequences of nicotine abstinence. The purpose of the present experiment was to use sensitive measures to examine behavioral disruptions that resulted when nicotine administration was terminated. Six rats were administered 96 daily intravenous infusions of nicotine (0.125 mg/kg/infusion) for at least 10 days. They were trained to respond on a tongue-operated solenoid-driven drinking device that delivered 0.005 ml of a glucose and saccharin solution (G+S) per lick. When nicotine access was terminated for six days, there was a marked suppression in behavior reinforced by the sweetened solution, and this disruption was immediately reversed when nicotine was reinstated. In contrast, nicotine removal also resulted in a decrease in food intake on the first day, but on subsequent days food intake was significantly higher than when nicotine was administered. When cotinine (0.25 mg/kg/infusion), a metabolite of nicotine was substituted for nicotine for six days, similar disruptions resulted in responding maintained by G+S, but food intake was not significantly decreased on the first day of nicotine abstinence. These findings illustrate the utility of sensitive behavioral tests to reveal effects of nicotine abstinence.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Grants DA 02486 and DA 03240 from the Natmnal Institute on Drug Abuse