, Volume 142, Issue 4, pp 408-412

Exposure to nicotine enhances acquisition of ethanol drinking by laboratory rats in a limited access paradigm

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 Observations in humans suggest that the initial use of tobacco occurs in close temporal proximity to experimentation with alcohol. There have been relatively few research reports, however, examining possible interactions between these two agents. The present experiments examined the effect of nicotine exposure on the acquisition of ethanol drinking behavior in a limited access procedure. In experiment 1, rats were presented with 1-h access to ethanol solutions of increasing concentration for a period of 20 days. Subcutaneous injections of nicotine (0.6 or 1.2 mg/kg salt) or vehicle were administered 30 min prior to each ethanol presentation. Experiment 2 used a similar method, but rats were presented with water along with ethanol during the 1-h test session. Mecamylamine, a nicotinic receptor antagonist, was administered 30 min prior to the nicotine treatment. Nicotine was seen to produce a dose-dependent increase in ethanol drinking behavior which commenced at the 5% ethanol concentration and continued at 8% and again at 10%. In the second experiment, mecamylamine was observed to block completely the nicotine-induced increase in ethanol drinking behavior. The findings suggest that exposure to nicotine can facilitate the acquisition of ethanol drinking behavior in naive rats and that this effect is mediated by nicotine’s interaction at the nicotinic-cholinergic receptor.