Self-administration of intravenous nicotine in male and female cigarette smokers

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Mar;33(4):715-20. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301460. Epub 2007 May 30.


Although nicotine is the main addictive chemical in tobacco, there have been few studies of pure nicotine self-administration in humans. The goal of this study was to test the parameters of an intravenous (IV) nicotine self-administration model using nicotine doses presumed to be within the range of those of average intake from cigarette smoking. Six male and four female smokers participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, which consisted of one adaptation and three experimental sessions. In each experimental session, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the three doses of nicotine (0.1, 0.4, or 0.7 mg). The lowest nicotine dose, 0.1 mg, was chosen to be approximately half the amount of nicotine inhaled from one puff of a cigarette. During each experimental session, subjects first sampled the assigned nicotine dose and placebo and then had the opportunity to choose between nicotine and placebo for a total of six choices over a 90-min period. Out of six options, the average (SEM) number of nicotine choices were 3.0 (0.48) for 0.1 mg, 4.7 (0.48) for 0.4 mg and 4.5 (0.46) for 0.7 mg, indicating a significant effect of nicotine dose on nicotine choice. Both the 0.4 and 0.7, but not the 0.1 mg, nicotine doses were preferred to placebo. These higher doses also produced increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and ratings of drug liking and high. Overall, these findings indicate that smokers chose both the 0.4 and the 0.7 mg nicotine doses over placebo. Our model may be useful in the evaluation of the effects of both behavioral and pharmacological manipulations on nicotine self-administration in humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intraventricular / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Self Administration
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / drug therapy*


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine