Journal Article

Adolescent Rats Self-Administer Less Nicotine Than Adults at Low Doses

Rachel L. Schassburger, Emily M. Pitzer, Tracy T. Smith, Laura E. Rupprecht, Edda Thiels, Eric C. Donny and Alan F. Sved

in Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Volume 18, issue 9, pages 1861-1868
Published in print September 2016 | ISSN: 1462-2203
Published online January 2016 | e-ISSN: 1469-994X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntw006
Adolescent Rats Self-Administer Less Nicotine Than Adults at Low Doses

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Introduction:

Although nearly 90% of current smokers initiated tobacco use during adolescence, little is known about reinforcement by nicotine in adolescents. Researchers are currently investigating whether a potential public health policy setting a tobacco product standard with very low nicotine levels would improve public health, and it is essential to understand whether data generated in adults translates to adolescents, particularly as it relates to the threshold dose of nicotine required to support smoking. The present study compared self-administration of low doses of nicotine between adolescent and adult rats.

Methods:

Adolescent (postnatal day [P] 30) and adult (P90) male and female rats were allowed to nosepoke to receive intravenous infusions of nicotine (3–100 μg/kg/infusion) during 16 daily 1-hour sessions.

Results:

At 10 μg/kg/infusion nicotine, adolescent rats earned significantly fewer infusions than adults. When responding for 30 μg/kg/infusion nicotine, rats of both ages earned a similar number of infusions; however, there were subtle differences in the distribution of infusions across the 1-hour session. No sex differences were apparent in either age group at any dose.

Conclusions:

These results demonstrate that adolescent rats are less sensitive than adults to the primary reinforcing effects of nicotine. However, at nicotine doses that support self-administration in both age groups, adolescent and adult rats do not differ in acquisition or number of infusions earned. These results suggest that reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to a level that does not support smoking in adults may be sufficient to reduce the acquisition of smoking in adolescents.

Implications:

The results of the present studies demonstrate that adolescent rats are less sensitive than adults to the primary reinforcing effects of nicotine. These results suggest that reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to a level that does not support smoking in adults will be sufficient to reduce the acquisition of smoking in adolescents.

Journal Article.  7284 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Addictions and Substance Misuse

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