Interdose Interval Effects on the Development of Contextual Tolerance to Nicotine's Analgesic Effects in Rats (Rattus norvegicus)

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Learning models of associative and nonassociative drug tolerance predict that the development of contextual tolerance to drug effects is disrupted when the drug is delivered at short interdose intervals (IDIs). The authors examined the impact of 1 long IDI and 2 short IDIs in the development of contextual nicotine tolerance. Associative tolerance was investigated by giving rats (Rattus norvegicus) 10 subcutaneous injections of nicotine at either long (72-hr) IDIs or short (6-hr and 4.5-hr) IDIs. The delivery of nicotine was either explicitly paired or explicitly unpaired with a distinctive context. A 3rd group of rats was exposed to the experimental procedures but received only saline. Associative tolerance to nicotine's analgesic effects was defined as a shift to the right of the dose-response curve (DRC) of rats in the explicitly paired condition with respect to the DRC of rats in the explicitly unpaired condition. Analgesia was assessed with the tail-flick and hot-plate devices. In the tail-flick assessment, associative tolerance was evident in the 72-hr and the 6-hr IDI conditions only. In the hot-plate assessment, associative tolerance was present in the 72-hr IDI condition only. The findings suggest that contextual tolerance to nicotine's analgesic effects are positively related to IDI length and are more readily demonstrated with the tail-flick method than with the hot-plate method. Overall, the results supported the thesis that nicotine tolerances that develop to different IDIs are qualitatively different and may be mediated by different psychological and physiological mechanisms.

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