Sex Differences in Neurotensin and Substance P Following Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats

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Abstract

Investigator-administered nicotine alters neurotensin and substance P levels in Sprague-Dawley rats. This finding suggested a role of the dopamine-related endogenous neuropeptides in nicotine addiction. We sought to extend this observation by determining the responses of neurotensin and substance P systems (assessed using radioimmunoassay) in male and female rats following nicotine self-administration (SA). Male and female Sprague-Dawley were trained to self-administer nicotine, or receive saline infusions yoked to a nicotine-administering rat during daily sessions (1-h; 21 days). Brains were extracted 3 h after the last SA session. Nicotine SA increased tissue levels of neurotensin in the males in the anterior and posterior caudate, globus pallidus, frontal cortex, nucleus accumbens core and shell, and ventral tegmental area. Nicotine SA also increased tissue levels of neurotensin in the females in the anterior caudate, globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens core and shell, but not in the posterior caudate, frontal cortex, or ventral tegmental area. There were fewer sex differences observed in the substance P systems. Nicotine SA increased tissue levels of substance P in both the males and females in the posterior caudate, globus pallidus, frontal cortex, nucleus accumbens shell, and ventral tegmental area. A sex difference was observed in the nucleus accumbens core, where nicotine SA increased tissue levels of substance P in the males, yet decreased levels in the females. The regulation of neuropeptides following nicotine SA may play a role in the susceptibility to nicotine dependence in females and males.

In Sprague-Dawley rats, nicotine self-administration alters neurotensin-like immunoreactivity and substance P-like immunoreactivity differentially in male and female rats. The regulation of neuropeptides following nicotine SA may play a role in the susceptibility to nicotine dependence in females and males.

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