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Neurosci Lett. 2008 Mar 5;433(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2007.11.074. Epub 2007 Dec 23.

Changed accumbal responsiveness to alcohol in rats pre-treated with nicotine or the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2.

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Laboratory of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, Campus de Somosaguas, Complutense University of Madrid, 28223, Madrid, Spain.


Alcohol, nicotine, and cannabinoid acutely increase the activity of the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) pathway. Although polysubstance consumption is a common pattern of abuse in humans, little is known about dopamine release following pre-exposure to these drugs. The purpose of this study was to test whether alcohol-induced dopamine release into the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell is modified by different pre-treatments: water (i.g.), alcohol (1 g/kg, i.g.), nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, s.c.), and WIN 55,212-2 (1 mg/kg, s.c.). Male Wistar rats were treated (i.g.) for 14 days with either water or alcohol. In the following 5 days rats were injected (s.c.) with vehicle, nicotine, or WIN 55,212-2. Finally, a cannula was surgically implanted into the NAc shell and alcohol-induced extracellular dopamine release was monitored in freely moving rats. Alcohol (1 g/kg; i.g.) only increased the release of dopamine when animals were previously treated with water. This DA increase was markedly inhibited by (subchronic) treatment (5 days) with nicotine or WIN 55-212-2 as well as by previous (chronic) exposure to alcohol (14 days). These data demonstrate that pre-treatment with nicotine and the cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 is able to change the sensitivity of the NAc shell in response to a moderate dose of alcohol. Therefore, cannabinoid and nicotine exposure may have important implications on the rewarding effects of alcohol, because these drugs lead to long-lasting changes in accumbal dopamine transmission.

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