Nicotine alleviation of nicotine abstinence syndrome is naloxone-reversible

David H. Malin, J. Ronald Lake, Mary C. Payne, Paul E. Short, Victoria A. Carter, J. Scott Cunningham, Owen B. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


In a recently introduced rodent model of nicotine abstinence syndrome, the observed signs closely resembled those typical of rat opiate abstinence syndrome. Signs were precipitated by naloxone and potently reversed by morphine as well as nicotine itself, suggesting that nicotine might relieve nicotine abstinence syndrome through releasing endogenous opioids. To test this hypothesis, rats were continuously infused subcutaneously (SC) for 7 days with 9 mg/kg per day nicotine tartrate. Each rat was observed for abstinence signs at 18 and 21 h after termination of infusion. Three minutes before the 21-h test, all rats received 0.35 mg/kg nicotine tartrate, SC; 5 min before the nicotine injection, subjects received 9 or 4.5 mg/kg naloxone or saline alone, SC. Abstinence reversal scores were calculated as signs at 21 h as a percentage of signs at 18 h. Naloxone prevented nicotine alleviation of nicotine abstinence in a dose-related manner. However, naloxone in the absence of a nicotine injection had no effect on abstinence severity in either highly dependent or moderately dependent rats (infused with 9 or 5 mg/kg per day nicotine tartrate, respectively). These results support the hypothesis that endogenous opioids play a role in nicotine dependence and abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • Endogenous opioid peptides
  • Naloxone
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotine abstinence
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Nicotine withdrawal
  • Opiate antagonists
  • Opiates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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