A nicotine conjugate vaccine reduces nicotine distribution to brain and attenuates its behavioral and cardiovascular effects in rats

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000 Jan 1;65(1):191-8. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(99)00206-3.


Vaccination of animals to elicit drug-specific antibodies, or the passive transfer of such antibodies from other animals, can reduce the behavioral effects of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. To study the potential application of this approach to treating nicotine dependence, IgG was isolated from rabbits immunized with a nicotine-protein conjugate vaccine. Anesthetized rats received immune IgG containing nicotine-specific antibodies (Nic-IgG) or control-IgG i.v.. Thirty minutes later, rats received nicotine at 0.03 mg/kg i.v., equivalent on an mg/kg basis to the nicotine intake from two cigarettes by a smoker. Compared to control-IgG, Nic-IgG reduced the brain nicotine concentration in a dose-related manner (65% reduction at the highest IgG dose). Pretreatment with Nic-IgG also reduced the distribution to brain of five repeated doses of nicotine (equivalent to the nicotine intake from 10 cigarettes) administered over 80 min. To study blood pressure effects, rats received control-IgG or Nic-IgG 1 day prior to administering nicotine. Nicotine-induced systolic blood pressure increases were attenuated by Nic-IgG in a dose-related manner, and were almost completely blocked by the highest Nic-IgG dose. Pretreatment with Nic-IgG also completely prevented the nicotine-induced stimulation of locomotor activity observed in rats receiving control-IgG. Nic-IgG did not prevent locomotor activation from cocaine, demonstrating its specificity for nicotine. These data demonstrate that the administration of nicotine-specific antibodies can reduce or prevent some of the pharmacokinetic, cardiovascular, and behavioral consequences of nicotine in rats. Effects were observed at nicotine doses and nicotine serum concentrations equal to or exceeding those typically associated with nicotine exposure in cigarette smokers. A potential role for immunization in the treatment of nicotine dependence is suggested.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nicotine / immunology*
  • Nicotine / pharmacokinetics
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • Nicotine