Continuous nicotine infusion reduces nicotine self-administration in rats with 23-h/day access to nicotine

Mark G. LeSage, Dan E. Keyler, Don Shoeman, Donna Raphael, Gregory Collins, Paul R. Pentel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The effects of continuous nicotine infusion on nicotine self-administration (NSA) were studied in rats as a model of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in humans. A NSA model in which rats had 23-h/day access to nicotine was used to approximate nicotine access conditions in cigarette smokers. In order to estimate serum nicotine concentrations associated with NSA, arterial and venous serum nicotine concentrations were measured during a simulation of NSA. Nicotine was noncontingently administered as 30 doses/12 h of 0.03 mg/kg/inf or 60 doses/12 h of 0.01 mg/kg/inf daily. Venous serum nicotine concentrations were measured after the first nicotine dose of the day, and arterial and venous concentrations were measured after doses in the middle of the day. The range of mean concentrations measured was similar to those reported in cigarette smokers (venous concentrations 6-59 ng/ml, arterial concentrations 42-96 ng/ml). The effects of continuous nicotine infusion on NSA were studied by noncontingently administering nicotine at various rates via osmotic pump to animals self-administering nicotine (0.01 or 0.03 mg/kg/inf) during 23-h/day sessions. Continuous nicotine infusion at all infusion rates substantially suppressed NSA, but suppression was rate-related only for the 0.01-mg/kg/inf NSA unit dose. Nicotine infusion rates producing venous serum nicotine concentrations equaling or exceeding the peak venous levels associated with simulated NSA were more effective than lower infusion rates only at the lower NSA unit dose. The highest nicotine infusion rate had no sustained effect on food-maintained responding, demonstrating its specificity for suppression of NSA. These data provide a model for studying NRT in the rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Nicotine
  • Nicotine concentrations
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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