Self-administration of nicotine and cigarette smoke extract in adolescent and adult rats

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Although smoking initiation typically occurs during adolescence, most preclinical studies of tobacco use involve adult animals. Furthermore, their focus is largely on nicotine alone, even though cigarette smoke contains thousands of constituents. The present study therefore aimed to determine whether aqueous constituents in cigarette smoke affect acquisition of nicotine self-administration during adolescence in rats. Adolescent and adult male rats, aged postnatal day (P) 25 and 85, respectively, were food trained on a fixed ratio 1 (FR1) schedule, then allowed to self-administer one of 5 doses of nicotine (0, 3.75, 7.5, 15, or 30 μg/kg) or aqueous cigarette smoke extract (CSE) with equivalent nicotine content. Three progressively more difficult schedules of reinforcement, FR1, FR2, and FR5, were used. Both adolescent and adult rats acquired self-administration of nicotine and CSE. Nicotine and CSE similarly increased non-reinforced responding in adolescents, leading to enhanced overall drug intake as compared to adults. When data were corrected for age-dependent alterations in non-reinforced responding, adolescents responded more for low doses of nicotine and CSE than adults at the FR1 reinforcement schedule. No differences in adolescent responding for the two drugs were seen at this schedule, whereas adults had fewer responses for CSE than for nicotine. However, when the reinforcement schedule was increased to FR5, animals dose-dependently self-administered both nicotine and CSE, but no drug or age differences were observed. These data suggest that non-nicotine tobacco smoke constituents do not influence the reinforcing effect of nicotine in adolescents.

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