, Volume 168, Issue 1–2, pp 216–221 | Cite as

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

  • A. D. Lê
  • A. Wang
  • S. Harding
  • W. Juzytsch
  • Y. Shaham
Original Investigation


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.


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).


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.


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.


Alcohol Extinction Nicotine Reinstatement Relapse Self-administration 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. Lê
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Wang
    • 2
  • S. Harding
    • 1
  • W. Juzytsch
    • 1
  • Y. Shaham
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada M5S 2S1
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Behavioral Neuroscience BranchIRP/NIDA/NIH/DHHSBaltimoreUSA

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