Nicotine and some related compounds: effects on schedule-controlled behaviour and discriminative properties in rats

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1989;97(3):295-302. doi: 10.1007/BF00439441.


Behavioural effects of d- and l-nicotine, d- and l-nornicotine and l-cotinine were studied in two paradigms. In experiment 1, rats responded under a multiple fixed-interval (FI) 5 min, fixed-ratio (FR) 20 schedule of food presentation. Aside from differences in potency and time course, l-nicotine and the stereoisomers of nornicotine produced qualitatively similar effects on rates of responding. With increasing doses of drugs, FI response rates first increased and then decreased, while FR response rates only decreased. In contrast, d-nicotine did not significantly increase FI response rates at lower doses, and only decreased FI and FR response rates at higher doses. At doses up to 100 mg/kg, cotinine produced only dose-dependent increases in FI response rates and had no effect on FR response rates. Rate-increasing effects of cotinine were not blocked by mecamylamine. In experiment 2, rats were trained to discriminate between l-nicotine (0.1 mg/kg SC) and saline (0.1 ml/kg SC) in a two-bar, operant conditioning procedure under a tandem variable-interval (VI) 1 min, FR 10 schedule of food presentation. Full generalization was obtained to d-nicotine and to l- and d-nornicotine. Generalization to cotinine occurred only with large doses that contained significant amounts of nicotine present as an impurity. There was no generalization to non-nicotinic drugs (morphine and clenbuterol), even at doses that reduced response rates.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Cotinine / pharmacology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Insecticides / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Nicotine / analogs & derivatives
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Reinforcement Schedule


  • Insecticides
  • Nicotine
  • nornicotine
  • Cotinine