, Volume 231, Issue 8, pp 1753–1762

Sex differences in the effect of wheel running on subsequent nicotine-seeking in a rat adolescent-onset self-administration model

  • Victoria Sanchez
  • Catherine F. Moore
  • Darlene H. Brunzell
  • Wendy J. Lynch
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-013-3359-3

Cite this article as:
Sanchez, V., Moore, C.F., Brunzell, D.H. et al. Psychopharmacology (2014) 231: 1753. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-3359-3



Wheel running attenuates nicotine-seeking in male adolescent rats; however, it is not known if this effect extends to females.


To determine if wheel running during abstinence would differentially attenuate subsequent nicotine-seeking in male and female rats that had extended access to nicotine self-administration during adolescence.


Male (n = 49) and female (n = 43) adolescent rats self-administered saline or nicotine (5 μg/kg) under an extended access (23-h) paradigm. Following the last self-administration session, rats were moved to polycarbonate cages for an abstinence period where they either had access to a locked or unlocked running wheel for 2 h/day. Subsequently, nicotine-seeking was examined under a within-session extinction/cue-induced reinstatement paradigm. Due to low levels of nicotine-seeking in females in both wheel groups, additional groups were included that were housed without access to a running wheel during abstinence.


Females self-administered more nicotine as compared to males; however, within males and females, intake did not differ between groups prior to wheel assignment. Compared to saline controls, males and females that self-administered nicotine showed a significant increase in drug-seeking during extinction. Wheel running during abstinence attenuated nicotine-seeking during extinction in males. In females, access to either locked or unlocked wheels attenuated nicotine-seeking during extinction. While responding was reinstated by cues in both males and females, levels were modest and not significantly affected by exercise in this adolescent-onset model.


While wheel running reduced subsequent nicotine-seeking in males, access to a wheel, either locked or unlocked, was sufficient to suppress nicotine-seeking in females.


AdolescentNicotineSelf-administrationWheel runningExerciseNicotine-seekingExtinctionRatSex differencesFemale

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Sanchez
    • 1
  • Catherine F. Moore
    • 1
  • Darlene H. Brunzell
    • 2
  • Wendy J. Lynch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Institute for Drug and Alcohol StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA