Stress reinstates nicotine seeking but not sucrose solution seeking in rats

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999 May;144(2):183-8. doi: 10.1007/s002130050992.


Rationale: Intermittent footshock stress effectively reinstates extinguished heroin-, cocaine- and alcohol-taking behaviors, but not behaviors previously maintained by food reinforcers. Here we tested further the generality of the phenomenon of stress-induced reinstatement by determining the effect of footshock on reinstatement of operant responding previously maintained by nicotine or palatable sucrose solutions.

Methods: Groups of rats were trained to self-administer either nicotine (0.03 mg/kg per infusion, 14 days) or sucrose (10 or 30% w/v, 14-20 days). After extinction of the nicotine- or the sucrose-reinforced behaviors for 5-15 days, the rats were exposed to intermittent footshock stress (5 and 15 min, 0.8 mA) during tests for reinstatement.

Results: Footshock reliably reinstated nicotine seeking after extinction of the drug-reinforced behavior. In contrast, the same parameters of footshock stress did not consistently reinstate operant responding previously maintained by sucrose solutions.

Conclusions: These and previous data suggest that stressors may be more effective stimuli for reinstatement of behaviors previously maintained by drug reinforcers as compared with non-drug reinforcers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*


  • Sucrose
  • Nicotine