Rationale: It is presently unclear whether diabetic rats experience greater rewarding effects of nicotine and/or negative affective states produced by nicotine withdrawal.
Objective: The present study utilized a rodent model of diabetes to examine the rewarding effects of nicotine and negative affective states and physical signs produced by withdrawal.
Methods: Separate groups of rats received systemic administration of either vehicle or streptozotocin (STZ), which destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and elevates glucose levels. Place conditioning procedures were utilized to compare the rewarding effects of nicotine (conditioned place preference; CPP) and negative affective states produced by withdrawal (conditioned place aversion; CPA) in vehicle- and STZ-treated rats. CPA and physical signs of withdrawal were compared after administration of the nicotinic receptor antagonist mecamylamine to precipitate withdrawal in nicotine-dependent rats. A subsequent study utilized elevated plus maze (EPM) procedures to compare anxiety-like behavior produced by nicotine withdrawal in vehicle- and STZ-treated rats.
Results: STZ-treated rats displayed greater rewarding effects of nicotine and a larger magnitude of aversive effects and physical signs produced by withdrawal as compared to vehicle-treated controls. STZ-treated rats also displayed higher levels of anxiety-like behavior on the EPM during nicotine withdrawal as compared to controls.
Conclusion: The finding that both nicotine reward and withdrawal are enhanced in a rodent model of diabetes implies that the strong behavioral effects of nicotine promote tobacco use in persons with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.
Keywords: Abstinence; Anxiety; Aversion; Diabetic; Metabolic disorder; Reward; Smoking; Streptozotocin; Tobacco.