Mirtazapine attenuates the expression of nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization in rats

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Nicotine is the primary psychoactive component of tobacco. Many addictive nicotinic actions are mediated by an increase in the activity of the serotonin (5-HT) system. Some studies show that the 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C, and 5-HT3 receptors have a central role in the induction and expression of nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization. Mirtazapine, an antagonist of the α2-adrenergic receptors, the 5-HT2A/C, and the 5-HT3 receptors, has proven effective in reducing behavioral effects induced by drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines in human and animal. In this study, we evaluated the effect of mirtazapine on the locomotor activity and on the expression of nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization. We used the nicotine locomotor sensitization paradigm to assess the effects of mirtazapine on nicotine-induced locomotor activity and locomotor sensitization. Mirtazapine (30 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered during extinction. Our study found that mirtazapine attenuated the expression of locomotor sensitization induced by different nicotine doses, decreased the duration of locomotor effects and locomotor activity induced by binge administration of nicotine. In addition, our study revealed that treatment with mirtazapine for 60 days produced an enhanced attenuation of nicotine-induced locomotor activity during the expression phase of behavioral sensitization, compared to that obtained when mirtazapine was administered for 30 days. This suggests that use of mirtazapine in controlled clinical trials may be a useful therapy to maintain abstinence for long periods.

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