Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 197, Issue 3, pp 409-419

First online:

The effects of nicotine on ethanol-induced conditioned taste aversions in Long–Evans rats

  • Jennifer A. RinkerAffiliated withPsychopharmacology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, American University Email author 
  • , Gregory D. BusseAffiliated withPsychopharmacology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, American University
  • , Peter G. RomaAffiliated withPsychopharmacology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, American University
  • , Scott A. ChenAffiliated withLaboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, Section on Primate Studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • , Christina S. BarrAffiliated withLaboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, Section on Primate Studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • , Anthony L. RileyAffiliated withPsychopharmacology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, American University

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Abstract

Rationale

Overall drug acceptability is thought to be a function of the balance between its rewarding and aversive effects, the latter of which is reportedly affected by polydrug use.

Objectives

Given that nicotine and alcohol are commonly co-used, the present experiments sought to assess nicotine’s impact on ethanol’s aversive effects within a conditioned taste aversion design.

Materials and methods

Experiment 1 examined various doses of nicotine (0, 0.4, 0.8, 1.2 mg/kg) to determine a behaviorally active dose, and experiment 2 examined various doses of ethanol (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 g/kg) to determine a dose that produced intermediate aversions. Experiment 3 then examined the aversive effects of nicotine (0.8 mg/kg) and ethanol (1.0 g/kg) alone and in combination. Additionally, nicotine’s effects on blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) and ethanol-induced hypothermia were examined.

Results

Nicotine and ethanol combined produced aversions significantly greater than those produced by either drug alone or the summed aversive effects of the individual compounds. These effects were unrelated to changes in BAC, but nicotine and ethanol combined produced a prolonged hypothermic effect which may contribute to the increased aversions induced by the combination.

Conclusions

These data demonstrate that nicotine may interact with ethanol, increasing ethanol’s aversive effects. Although the rewarding effects of concurrently administered nicotine and ethanol were not assessed, these data do indicate that the reported high incidence of nicotine and ethanol co-use is unlikely due to reductions in the aversiveness of ethanol with concurrently administered nicotine. It is more likely attributable to nicotine-related changes in ethanol’s rewarding effects.

Keywords

Nicotine Ethanol Drug interactions Polydrug use Drug acceptability Conditioned taste aversion Hypothermia Blood alcohol Rats Female