, Volume 168, Issue 1-2, pp 216-221
Date: 21 Jan 2003

Nicotine increases alcohol self-administration and reinstates alcohol seeking in rats

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Abstract

Rationale and objective

Alcohol and tobacco are often co-abused in humans and previous studies found that nicotine increases alcohol consumption in rats. Here, we studied whether nicotine would reinstate alcohol-taking behavior in drug-free rats and whether this effect would be enhanced by prior exposure to nicotine during alcohol self-administration training.

Methods

Rats were trained to press a lever for alcohol (12% w/v, 1 h/day), and following stable alcohol intake groups of rats (n=11–12) were given daily vehicle or nicotine (0.2, 0.4 or 0.8 mg/kg, SC) injections just prior to the self-administration sessions for 10 days. Rats were then given 6 days of alcohol self-administration in the absence of nicotine and an additional 5–10 drug-free days during which lever presses were not reinforced (extinction). Subsequently, rats were tested for reinstatement of alcohol seeking following exposure to priming injections of vehicle or nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, SC).

Results

Nicotine increased alcohol self-administration in a dose- and time-dependent manner over the 10-day period. Nicotine also reinstated alcohol seeking after extinction of the alcohol-reinforced behavior, and this effect was strongly enhanced by prior nicotine exposure.

Conclusions

The present data extend previous studies on the effect of nicotine on alcohol self-administration, and further indicate that nicotine is an effective stimulus for reinstatement of alcohol seeking during drug-free periods.