, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 511-515

Effects of subchronic nicotine administration on central dopaminergic mechanisms in the rat

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Nicotine was administered acutely and subchronically (14 days) to determine whether various synaptic mechanisms are selectively altered in the nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopaminergic systems in the rat. When added to tissue preparations in vitro, nicotine had no effects on tyrosine hydroxylase, synaptosomal uptake of [3H]dopamine or binding of [3H]spiperone to D2 receptors in either system. However, acute treatment in vivo stimulated tyrosine hydroxylase activity in the nucleus accumbens. This effect was prevented by pretreatment with a nicotinic antagonist, suggesting that it was mediated by nicotinic receptors. Since subchronic exposure to nicotine had no effect on tyrosine hydroxylase, it appears that tolerance develops to this action. In vivo treatment with nicotine did not alter dopamine uptake or receptor binding. The results suggest that, in doses which result in moderate plasma levels, nicotine has selective stimulant actions on nerve terminals of the mesolimbic system.