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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 Aug;96(2):217-27. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.05.008. Epub 2010 May 18.

Comparison of the behavioral effects of cigarette smoke and pure nicotine in rats.

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Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, Minneapolis, MN 55404, United States.


Animal models of tobacco dependence typically rely on parenteral administration of pure nicotine. Models using cigarette smoke inhalation might more accurately simulate nicotine exposure in smokers. The primary goal of this study was to validate methods for administering cigarette smoke to rats using exposure conditions that were clinically relevant and also produced brain nicotine levels similar to those produced by behaviorally active doses of pure nicotine. A secondary goal was to begin examining the behavioral effects of smoke. Nose-only exposure (NOE) to smoke for 10-45min or whole-body exposure (WBE) to smoke for 1-4h produced serum nicotine concentrations similar to those in smokers (14-55ng/ml), without excessive carbon monoxide exposure. Daily nicotine (0.1mg/kg, s.c.) induced locomotor sensitization whereas 45-min NOE producing brain nicotine levels within the same range did not. Nicotine 0.125mg/kg s.c. reversed withdrawal from a chronic nicotine infusion as measured by elevations in intracranial self-stimulation thresholds whereas 4-h WBE producing similar brain nicotine levels did not. These data demonstrate the feasibility of delivering cigarette smoke to rats at clinically relevant doses, and provide preliminary evidence that the behavioral effects of nicotine delivered in smoke may differ from those of pure nicotine.

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