Naloxone precipitates nicotine abstinence syndrome in the rat

David H. Malin, J. Ronald Lake, Victoria A. Carter, J. Scott Cunningham, Owen B. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Recently, a rodent model of nicotine abstinence syndrome has been developed based on continuous subcutaneous infusion of nicotine tartrate and observing the frequency of spontaneous behavioral signs following termination of infusion. The observed signs closely resemble those commonly seen in rat opiate abstinence syndrome, raising the possibility that there is an endogenous opioid component in nicotine dependence. The present study demonstrates that the opiate antagonist naloxone can precipitate an abstinence syndrome in nicotine-dependent rats. Fourteen rats were infused for 7 days with 9 mg/kg/day nicotine tartrate in saline via an Alzet osmotic minipump. Fourteen rats were sham-operated and remained nicotine-naive. Half of each group received 4.5 mg/kg naloxone SC immediately before a "blind" 15-min observation, while the other half received saline alone. ANOVA revealed significant nicotine infusion, naloxone injection and interaction effects. Post-hoc analysis showed that the nicotine-infused rats injected with naloxone had significantly more signs than all other groups (P<0.01). In a second experiment, 2 mg/kg morphine sulfate SC produced a significant (P<0.01) 91.2% reduction of spontaneous abstinence signs observed 21 h after termination of nicotine infusion. These results are consistent with the hypothesized endogenous opioid component in nicotine dependence and abstinence syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-342
Number of pages4
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1993


  • Morphine
  • Naloxone
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotine abstinence
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Opiate antagonists
  • Opiates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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