Effects of repeated nicotine administration and footshock stress on rat mesoprefrontal dopamine systems: Evidence for opioid mechanisms

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2000 Jul;23(1):79-88. doi: 10.1016/S0893-133X(99)00165-7.


We have examined the effects of nicotine pre-treatment on mesoprefrontal dopamine (DA) function in the presence and absence of acute stress, and the involvement of endogenous opiate peptide systems (EOPS). Acute electrical footshock stress preferentially increases DA utilization in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) compared to nucleus accumbens (NAS) and striatal terminal fields, and this is correlated with profound locomotor immobility. Our recent studies have demonstrated that repeated, but not acute, nicotine pre-treatment significantly reduced mPFC DA utilization and footshock stress-induced immobility responses. There is increasing evidence that the biochemical and behavioral effects of nicotine are mediated by EOPS, and we hypothesized that the stress-reducing effects of repeated nicotine administration in these studies were mediated by EOPS. Accordingly, rats pre-treated subcutaneously with repeated nicotine were given a single dose of the opiate receptor antagonist naloxone (0.1-10.0 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline as a co-treatment with nicotine or saline 10 min prior to acute footshock stress. Naloxone had no effects on non-stressed or acute footshock stress-induced mPFC DA utilization, but dose-dependently antagonized repeated nicotine's attenuation of stress-induced mesoprefrontal DA utilization and immobility responses. Furthermore, naloxone dose-dependently blocked repeated nicotine's augmentation of accumbal DA utilization. These results suggest that EOPS may be involved in mediating repeated nicotine administration effects on mesoprefrontal dopaminergic and immobility responses to acute footshock stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Immobilization / physiology
  • Male
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Opioid Peptides / drug effects
  • Opioid Peptides / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism*


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Naloxone
  • Nicotine
  • Dopamine