Self-Administered Nicotine Suppresses Body Weight Gain Independent of Food Intake in Male Rats

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Abstract

Introduction:

The action of nicotine to suppress body weight is often cited as a factor impacting smoking initiation and the failure to quit. Despite the weight-suppressant effects of nicotine, smokers and nonsmokers report equal daily caloric intake. The weight-suppressive effects of nicotine in animal models of smoking are poorly understood. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration has authority to implement a policy markedly reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes; such a reduction could reduce smoking behavior, but have detrimental effects on body weight. The aim of this investigation was to examine the effects of self-administered nicotine on body weight and food intake in rats.

Methods:

In Experiment 1, rats with ad libitum access to chow responded for intravenous infusions of nicotine (60 µg/kg/infusion) or saline in daily 1-hour sessions; body weight and 24-hour food intake were measured. Experiment 2 tested the effects of subcutaneous injections of nicotine on food intake. In Experiment 3, rats were food restricted and self-administered nicotine across a range of doses (3.75–60 µg/kg/infusion) while body weight was measured. In Experiment 4, rats self-administered 60 µg/kg/infusion nicotine before reduction to one of several doses (1.875–15 µg/kg/infusion) for 50 days.

Results:

Self-administered nicotine suppressed weight gain independent of food intake. In food restricted rats, self-administered nicotine dose-dependently suppressed body weight gain. In rats self-administering 60 µg/kg/infusion nicotine, dose reduction increased body weight.

Conclusions:

Self-administered nicotine, even at low doses, suppressed body independent of food intake; this may have important implications for nicotine reduction policy.

Implications:

The results of the present studies demonstrate that self-administered nicotine suppresses body weight independent of food intake in rats. Further, the present studies establish that self-administered nicotine suppresses body weight even at very low doses and that reduction of nicotine dose results in weight gain. These results have important implications for nicotine reduction policy.

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