, Volume 212, Issue 4, pp 485–499 | Cite as

Effects of prazosin, clonidine, and propranolol on the elevations in brain reward thresholds and somatic signs associated with nicotine withdrawal in rats

  • Adrie W. Bruijnzeel
  • Mahendra Bishnoi
  • Irma A. van Tuijl
  • Kim F. M. Keijzers
  • Kate R. Yavarovich
  • Tim M. Pasek
  • Jenna Ford
  • Jon C. Alexander
  • Hidetaka Yamada
Original Investigation



Tobacco withdrawal is characterized by a negative mood state and relatively mild somatic symptoms. Increased noradrenergic transmission has been reported to play an important role in opioid withdrawal, but little is known about the role of noradrenergic transmission in nicotine withdrawal.


The aim of these experiments was to investigate the effects of prazosin, clonidine, and propranolol on the negative mood state and somatic signs associated with nicotine withdrawal in rats.


A discrete-trial intracranial self-stimulation procedure was used to assess the negative affective state of nicotine withdrawal. Elevations in brain reward thresholds are indicative of a deficit in brain reward function.


In all the experiments, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist mecamylamine (3 mg/kg) elevated the brain reward thresholds of the nicotine-treated rats and did not affect those of the control rats. The α1-adrenergic receptor antagonist prazosin (0.0625 and 0.125 mg/kg) dose-dependently attenuated the elevations in brain reward thresholds associated with precipitated nicotine withdrawal. The α2-adrenergic receptor agonist clonidine (10–40 μg/kg) and the nonselective β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol (2.5–10 mg/kg) did not attenuate the elevations in brain reward thresholds associated with nicotine withdrawal. Furthermore, mecamylamine (2 mg/kg) induced more somatic signs in the nicotine-treated rats than in the control rats. Clonidine and propranolol, but not prazosin, decreased the total number of somatic signs associated with nicotine withdrawal.


Blockade of α1-adrenergic receptors attenuates the deficit in brain reward function associated with nicotine withdrawal. Antagonism of β-adrenergic receptors or stimulation of α2-adrenergic receptors attenuates the somatic symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.


Prazosin Clonidine Propranolol Norepinephrine Adrenergic receptors Nicotine Withdrawal Brain reward function Rats 



This research was funded by a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant (DA023575) and a Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute Young Clinical Scientist Award (Grant nr. 52312) to Adrie Bruijnzeel. Irma van Tuijl received salary support from the Dr. Saal van Zwanenberg Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrie W. Bruijnzeel
    • 1
  • Mahendra Bishnoi
    • 1
  • Irma A. van Tuijl
    • 1
  • Kim F. M. Keijzers
    • 1
  • Kate R. Yavarovich
    • 1
  • Tim M. Pasek
    • 1
  • Jenna Ford
    • 1
  • Jon C. Alexander
    • 1
  • Hidetaka Yamada
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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