Rodent model of nicotine abstinence syndrome

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1992 Nov;43(3):779-84. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(92)90408-8.


Few animals models are currently in use for the recognized clinical problem of nicotine dependence and abstinence. This study introduces a rapid and convenient model using the rat. Sixteen male rats were rendered nicotine dependent by 7 days of continuous subcutaneous infusion of either 3 mg/kg/day (n = 8) or 9 mg/kg/day (n = 8) nicotine tartrate salt; 8 control rats were infused with saline alone. Rats were observed for 15 min before, during, and after the drug infusion period using a tally sheet modified from a standard checklist of opiate abstinence signs. There were few signs observed in any group at baseline and at the end of the infusion period. However, nicotine-infused rats showed a significant, dose-related increase over the control group at 16 h after the end of infusion, largely subsiding by 40 h. The most frequently observed signs during withdrawals included: teeth-chattering/chews, writhes/gasps, ptosis, tremors/shakes, and yawns. A significant drop in locomotor activity and increase in weight gain following termination of nicotine infusion provided additional evidence of an abstinence syndrome. This syndrome was alleviated by SC administration of 0.4 mg/kg nicotine tartrate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*


  • Nicotine