Effects of ceftriaxone on conditioned nicotine reward in rats

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Nicotine is the addictive compound in tobacco products which exerts psychosomatic effects that contribute to abuse and to low rates of abstinence in treatment-seeking smokers. At present, the most successful smoking cessation aide helps one in four individuals quit smoking at 1 year postcessation. New adjunctive therapies are needed to improve status of smoking-related public health crises, and β-lactam antibiotics are one class of potential therapies as they favorably augment extrasynaptic glutamate clearance. Our study used two-chamber place conditioning to assess effects of ceftriaxone (CTX) on persistence of conditioned nicotine reward. Rats were conditioned to associate nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, subcutaneous) with one context and vehicle with an alternative context. After initial post-test, rats received either daily ceftriaxone (200 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) or saline. All rats showed nicotine place preference during post-test 1. CTX-treated rats meeting extinction criterion by post-test 7 showed significantly reduced preference for the nicotine-paired context during post-test 2 compared with vehicle-treated rats. We interpret these data to support the further study of CTX as a smoking cessation aide. Our results suggest that CTX reduces persistence of conditioned nicotine reward and may be helpful for improving abstinence rates in a subset of treatment-seeking smokers.

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