Enhanced vulnerability to the rewarding effects of nicotine during the adolescent period of development

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2008 Oct;90(4):658-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.05.009.


This study compared the rewarding and aversive effects of nicotine in adolescent, adult, and adult rats preexposed to nicotine during adolescence. Prior to conditioning, the rats were tested for their initial preference for either of 2 distinct compartments. Adolescent and adult rats then received various nicotine doses in their initially non-preferred side on one day and saline in the other side on alternate days. This 2-day procedure was repeated over 8 consecutive days. Following conditioning, rats were re-tested for their preference. Another cohort of adolescent and adult rats were conditioned with various doses of D-amphetamine. Nicotine produced CPP in an inverted U-shaped manner in both age groups. However, adolescents displayed a larger upward shift in CPP that was significant across a wider dose range relative to adults. There were no developmental differences to CPP produced by D-amphetamine. In a final study, adolescents were prepared with pumps that delivered nicotine for 14 days. These rats were conditioned later as adults using the same procedures used previously. Pre-exposure to nicotine during adolescence diminished the aversive effects produced by the highest nicotine dose in naive adults. Taken together, these studies provide a basis for enhanced vulnerability to nicotine during adolescence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environment
  • Male
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reward*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine
  • Dextroamphetamine