Rationale: Nitric oxide (NO) is implicated in both acute effects of addictive drugs and development of dependence to them. We investigated the role of NO in nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization.
Objectives: The effects of Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a NO synthase inhibitor, and a combination of a NO precursor L-arginine and L-NAME on nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization were investigated in Swiss Webster mice.
Methods: Sensitization to psychomotor stimulating effect of nicotine was rendered by seven injections of nicotine (1 mg/kg) on every other day. To investigate their effect on the development of sensitization to nicotine, L-NAME (15-60 mg/kg) and L-arginine (1 g/kg) were given before nicotine administration during the first seven sessions. To investigate the effect of these compounds on the expression of nicotine sensitization, after a 4-day drug-free period another group of mice received a challenge injection of nicotine on day 18.
Results: Nicotine (1 mg/kg) produced a robust locomotor sensitization in mice. The doses of 30 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg of L-NAME blocked the development of sensitization to nicotine; and, L-arginine (1 g/kg) pretreatment reversed this effect of L-NAME. Likewise, the doses of 30 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg of L-NAME inhibited the expression of sensitization to nicotine on day 18; and, L-arginine (1 g/kg) pretreatment reversed this inhibitory effect of L-NAME.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that NO is implicated in the development and expression of nicotine-induced locomotor sensitization in mice.