Pre-clinical studies investigated the effects of chronic exposure to nicotine on lungs, kidneys and brains using animal models. Most of these studies delivered nicotine into the circulatory and central nervous systems (CNS) through intraperitoneal injection or oral consumption methods. Few studies used inhalation machine system for nicotine delivery into brains in rodents to mimic human exposure to cigarettes. However, finding a more accurate and clinically relevant method of nicotine delivery is critical. A computerized inhalation machine has been designed (SciReq) and is currently employed in several institutions. The computerized machine delivers electronic (e)-cigarette vapor as well as tobacco smoke to rodents using marketed e-cigarette devices or tobacco cigarettes. This provides evidence about clinical effects of nicotine delivery by traditional methods (combustible cigarettes) and new methodologies (e-cigarettes) in physiological systems. Potential neurobiological mechanisms for the development of nicotine dependence have been determined recently in mice exposed to e-cigarette vapors in our laboratory using SciReq system. In this review article, the discussion focuses on the efficiency and practical applicability of using this computerized inhalation exposure system in inducing significant changes in brain protein expression and function as compared to other nicotine delivery methods. The SciReq inhalation system utilized in our laboratory and others is a method of nicotine delivery to the CNS, which has physiological relevance and mimics human inhalant exposures. Translation of the effects of inhaled nicotine on the CNS into clinical settings could provide important health considerations.
Keywords: CNS, central nervous system; Cigarette inhalation; Combustible cigarette; Electronic cigarette; GLT-1, glutamate transporter-1; Nicotine; Tobacco cigarette; e-cigarette, electronic cigarette; xCT, cystine/glutamate exchanger; α-7nAChR, alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.