Rationale: Although conditioned place preferences (CPPs) are seen with most abused drugs, nicotine does not always produce a preference in this design.
Objectives: The goals of the present experiment were to (1) examine various factors that could contribute to these inconsistent results and (2) begin to evaluate the specific nicotinic receptors involved in the nicotine CPP.
Methods: The influences of prior handling, environmental habituation, and injection habituation on a nicotine CPP were first evaluated in ICR mice. Subsequently, various nicotine doses were assessed for their abilities to produce a CPP, and the effectiveness of nicotinic receptor antagonists in attenuating this preference was examined. Finally, nicotine CPPs were assessed in C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice to examine the influence of strain in this design.
Results: Nicotine CPPs were seen in handled/environmentally habituated, but not in unhandled, ICR mice. Habituation to the injection techniques failed to strengthen the preference. In ICR mice, a CPP was seen with one intermediate dose of nicotine. This CPP was attenuated by mecamylamine and dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHbetaE). A nicotine CPP was also seen in C57BL/6J, but not in DBA/2J, mice.
Conclusion: Earlier handling experience and strain are important factors when evaluating a nicotine CPP in the mouse. In addition, certain nicotinic receptors underlie the nicotine CPP, indicating that this model can elucidate underlying mediators of nicotine reward.