Sex differences in conditioned nicotine reward are age-specific

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 May:132:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2015.02.019. Epub 2015 Feb 28.


Women constitute half of all smokers and many studies suggest that adult males and females differ in factors that maintain tobacco smoking, yet there is limited information about sex differences in nicotine reward during adolescence. Limited studies suggest that adolescent male rats self-administer more nicotine than adults, suggesting that drug administration during adolescence leads to different behavioral effects than during adulthood. In the present study, male rats developed a significant conditioned place preference (CPP) to lower doses of nicotine than females, regardless of age. In addition, adolescents were more sensitive than adults. In female rats, adolescents exhibited a CPP of greater magnitude than adult females. In males, the magnitude of the CPP did not differ as a function of age, but adolescents exhibited CPP to lower doses than adults. There also were differences in nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptor binding in nucleus accumbens and caudate putamen in response to nicotine across age and sex. These findings suggest that it is necessary to consider sex- and age-specific effects of drugs such as nicotine when developing strategies for improving smoking cessation treatments.

Keywords: Adolescence; Conditioned place preference; Nicotine; Nicotinic receptors; Reward.