Reinforcer devaluation as a consequence of acute nicotine exposure and withdrawal.

PMID 25401169


Nicotine discontinuation produces behaviors in rats that are congruent with anhedonia, and these symptoms may be related to the devaluation of non-nicotine reinforcers. Four separate experiments were performed to explore the parameters surrounding nicotine-induced reinforcer devaluation. In Experiments 1 and 2, nicotine (0.1 or 0.3 mg/kg) or 0.3 mg/kg nicotine plus 1.0 mg/kg mecamylamine was delivered to rats prior to progressive ratio (PR) schedule sessions in which sucrose was used as a reinforcer. In order to evaluate (a) reinforcer enhancement by nicotine and (b) reinforcer devaluation in the absence of nicotine, all rats experienced two PR schedule sessions per day for 10 days. Experiment 3 involved nicotine (0.3 mg/kg) and a visual stimulus in place of sucrose reinforcement. In Experiment 4, rats received nicotine (0.3 mg/kg) either before or after a single PR schedule session for 10 days. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that reinforcer devaluation is related to the occupation of nicotinic-acetylcholine receptors. Results from Experiment 3 provide some evidence that devaluation occurs with either sucrose or visual-stimulus reinforcement. Experiment 4 demonstrates that a necessary condition for reinforcer devaluation to occur is the concurrent exposure to the reinforcer and nicotine. Reinforcer devaluation in rats emerges rapidly in a progressive, orderly fashion that coincides with accumulated exposure to nicotine. These results suggest that reinforcer devaluation may be a feature of nicotine that contributes to the abuse liability of tobacco products.