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Socially acquired nicotine self-administration with an aversive flavor cue in adolescent female rats

Abstract

Rationale

Establishing a behavioral model for the effect of social environment on nicotine intake in rodents facilitates the investigation of molecular mechanisms critical for the interaction between social environment and cigarette smoking.

Objectives

Our main objective was to test the hypothesis that nicotine is the primary reinforcer in the socially acquired nicotine intravenous self-administration (IVSA) model by using an aversive flavor cue.

Methods

Adolescent female rats were placed in operant conditioning chambers equipped with two lickometers. Operant licking triggered concurrent deliveries of a flavor (i.e., taste and odor) cue containing either quinine or saccharin and an i.v. infusion (30 μg/kg nicotine or saline). An audiovisual cue was provided for some groups of rats. A second rat that did not receive nicotine was placed in the operant conditioning chambers to provide either a neutral or an inducing (i.e., by consuming the flavored solution) social environment. These two rats were separated by a divider that allowed orofacial interactions.

Results

Rats acquired stable nicotine IVSA with either the aversive or the appetitive flavor cue in the inducing social environment, and obtained similar amounts of infusions. The neutral social environment did not support nicotine IVSA with either cue. The audiovisual cue per se did not support nicotine IVSA but enhanced nicotine intake. Nicotine increased the number of concurrent nose pokes by the two rats into the center divider, a measure of social interaction.

Conclusions

Despite its aversive effects, nicotine is the primary reinforcer for the operant responses in the socially acquired nicotine IVSA model.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by NIH DA-026894 (HC) and DA-037844 (HC). The authors thank Ms. Qingling Wu and Ms. Hongxiao Song for their excellent technical assistance and Dr. Jeffery Steketee for comments on the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hao Chen.

Ethics declarations

All procedures were conducted in accordance with the NIH Guidelines Concerning the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Additional information

Tengfei Wang and Wenyan Han contributed equally to this work.

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Wang, T., Han, W. & Chen, H. Socially acquired nicotine self-administration with an aversive flavor cue in adolescent female rats. Psychopharmacology 233, 1837–1844 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-016-4249-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-016-4249-2

Keywords

  • Social learning
  • Nicotine
  • Self-administration
  • Adolescence
  • Aversion
  • Reward
  • Olfactogustatory
  • Cue