Developing a model of limited-access nicotine consumption in C57Bl/6J mice

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Although United States smoking rates have been on the decline over the past few decades, cigarette smoking still poses a critical health and economic threat. Very few treatment options for smoking exist, and many of them do not lead to long-term abstinence. Preclinical models are necessary for understanding the effects of nicotine and developing treatments. Current self-administration models of nicotine intake may require surgical procedures and often result in low levels of intake. Further, they do not lend themselves to investigating treatments. The current study sought to develop a limited-access model of nicotine intake using the Drinking-in-the-Dark paradigm, which results in high levels of binge-like ethanol consumption that can be pharmacologically manipulated. The present study found that mice will consume nicotine under a range of parameters. Intakes under the preferred condition of 0.14 mg/ml nicotine in 0.2% saccharin reached over 6 mg/kg in two hours and were reduced by an injection of R(+)-baclofen. Mecamylamine did not significantly affect nicotine consumption. As nicotine and ethanol are often co-abused, nicotine intake was also tested in the presence of ethanol. When presented in the same bottle, mice altered nicotine intake under various concentrations to maintain consistent levels of ethanol intake. When nicotine and ethanol were presented in separate bottles, mice greatly reduced their nicotine intake while maintaining ethanol intake. In conclusion, these studies characterize a novel model of limited-access nicotine intake that can be pharmacologically manipulated.

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