Nicotine maintains robust self-administration in rats on a limited-access schedule

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1989;99(4):473-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00589894.


Intravenous nicotine maintained substantial responding on the drug-reinforced lever with a limited-access, fixed-ratio 5 schedule of self-administration. Responding demonstrated the expected pharmacological sensitivity; it was dose-dependently reduced by pre-session treatment with either nicotine or mecamylamine but not with hexamethonium. In addition, responding was dependent on the size of the unit dose, with maximum values occurring at 0.01 and 0.03 mg/kg/infusion. Self-administration behavior decreased at doses both above and below these, and extinction followed the substitution of saline for nicotine. Total session drug intake increased with unit dose up to a maximal value of approximately 0.5 mg/kg at 0.03 mg/kg/infusion, but did not increase further at the 0.06 mg/kg/infusion dose. A decrease in the time-out duration at the dose of 0.03 mg/kg/infusion also did not change the total session intake of nicotine. It is suggested that nicotine intake is controlled both by the total amount of drug obtained and by the magnitude of the unit dose. These results demonstrate that intravenous nicotine can maintain substantial self-administration behavior in rodents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hexamethonium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mecamylamine / pharmacology
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Self Administration


  • Hexamethonium Compounds
  • Mecamylamine
  • Nicotine