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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2011 Jun;19(3):203-14. doi: 10.1037/a0023373.

Discriminative and reinforcing stimulus effects of nicotine, cocaine, and cocaine + nicotine combinations in rhesus monkeys.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Concurrent cigarette smoking and cocaine use is well documented. However, the behavioral pharmacology of cocaine and nicotine combinations is poorly understood, and there is a need for animal models to examine this form of polydrug abuse. The purpose of this study was twofold: first to assess the effects of nicotine on the discriminative stimulus effects of cocaine, and second, to study self-administration of nicotine/cocaine combinations in a novel polydrug abuse model. In drug discrimination experiments, nicotine increased the discriminative stimulus effects of low cocaine doses in two of three monkeys, but nicotine did not substitute for cocaine in any monkey. Self-administration of cocaine and nicotine alone, and cocaine + nicotine combinations was studied under a second-order fixed ratio 2, variable ratio 16 (FR2[VR16:S]) schedule of reinforcement. Cocaine and nicotine alone were self-administered in a dose-dependent manner. The combination of marginally reinforcing doses of cocaine and nicotine increased drug self-administration behavior above levels observed with the same dose of either cocaine or nicotine alone. These findings indicate that nicotine may increase cocaine's discriminative stimulus and reinforcing effects in rhesus monkeys, and illustrate the feasibility of combining cocaine and nicotine in a preclinical model of polydrug abuse. Further studies of the behavioral effects of nicotine + cocaine combinations will contribute to our understanding the pharmacology of dual nicotine and cocaine dependence, and will be useful for evaluation of new treatment medications.

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