Does nicotine impact tramadol abuse? Insights from neurochemical and neurobehavioral changes in mice

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HIGHLIGHTSTramadol and nicotine enhance reward and dependence, increase dopamine levels.Coadministration of tramadol and nicotine increases cortical oxidative stress.Tramadol and/or nicotine enhance levels of inflammatory cytokines.Combination of tramadol and nicotine has deleterious effects on learning and memory.Tramadol decreases anxiety and aggression associated with nicotine administration.Nicotine and tramadol concomitant drug dependence pose increasing social, economic as well as public threats. Accordingly, the present study investigated neurochemical, neurobehavioral and neuropathological changes in the brain subsequent to the interaction of nicotine and tramadol. To this end, tramadol (20mg/kg, i.p) and nicotine (0.25mg/kg, i.p) were administrated to male albino mice once daily for 30 days. Consequent to microglial activation, nicotine exacerbated oxidative/nitrosative stress induced by tramadol as manifest by the step-up in thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and nitric oxide subsequent to the enhanced levels of neuronal and inducible nitric oxide synthases; paralleled by decreased non-protein sulfhydryls. Increased oxidative stress by tramadol and/or nicotine sequentially augmented nuclear factor kappa B and the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor α with the induction of apoptosis evident by the increased caspase-3 immunoreactivity. However, paradoxical to the boosted inflammation and apoptosis, heightened DA levels in the cortex parallel along with increased tyrosine hydroxylase in midbrain were apparent. Concomitant administration of tramadol and nicotine impaired spatial navigation in the Morris Water Maze test coupled with enhanced levels of acetyl- and butyryl cholinestrases. However, tramadol in association with nicotine improved social interaction while decreasing anxiety and aggression linked to chronic administration of nicotine, effects manifested by increased levels of serotonin and GABA. These results provide evidence that co-administration of tramadol and nicotine may enhance reward and dependence while reducing anxiety and aggression linked to nicotine administration. However, such combination exacerbated neurotoxic effects and elicited negative effects regarding learning and memory.

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