, Volume 235, Issue 4, pp 1131–1140 | Cite as

Self-administered nicotine increases fat metabolism and suppresses weight gain in male rats

  • Laura E. RupprechtEmail author
  • Alison D. Kreisler
  • Samantha R. Spierling
  • Giordano de Guglielmo
  • Marsida Kallupi
  • Olivier George
  • Eric C. Donny
  • Eric P. Zorrilla
  • Alan F. Sved
Original Investigation



The ability of nicotine to suppress body weight is cited as a factor impacting smoking initiation and the failure to quit. Self-administered nicotine in male rats suppresses weight independent of food intake, suggesting that nicotine increases energy expenditure.


The current experiment evaluated the impact of self-administered nicotine on metabolism in rats using indirect calorimetry and body composition analysis.


Adult male rats with ad libitum access to powdered standard rodent chow self-administered intravenous infusions of nicotine (60 μg/kg/infusion or saline control) in daily 1-h sessions in the last hour of the light cycle. Indirect calorimetry measured respiratory exchange ratio (RER), energy expenditure, motor activity, and food and water consumption for 22.5 h between select self-administration sessions.


Self-administered nicotine suppressed weight gain and reduced the percent of body fat without altering the percent of lean mass, as measured by Echo MRI. Nicotine reduced RER, indicating increased fat utilization; this effect was observed prior to weight suppression. Moreover, nicotine intake did not affect motor activity or energy expenditure. Daily food intake was not altered by nicotine self-administration; however, a trend in suppression of meal size, a transient suppression of water intake, and an increase in meal frequency was observed.


These data provide evidence that self-administered nicotine suppresses body weight via increased fat metabolism, independent of significant changes in feeding, activity, or energy expenditure.


Indirect calorimetry Energy expenditure Respiratory exchange ratio Oxymax 



Authors would like to acknowledge Savannah Fang, Casey Williams, and Melanie Blank for technical support.

Funding information

This work was funded by internal University of Pittsburgh funding (AFS), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA036691, OG and F31 DA041785, LER).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura E. Rupprecht
    • 1
    Email author return OK on get
  • Alison D. Kreisler
    • 2
  • Samantha R. Spierling
    • 2
  • Giordano de Guglielmo
    • 2
  • Marsida Kallupi
    • 2
  • Olivier George
    • 2
  • Eric C. Donny
    • 3
  • Eric P. Zorrilla
    • 2
  • Alan F. Sved
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for NeuroscienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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