Discriminative stimulus properties of nicotine: further evidence for mediation at a cholinergic receptor

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1983;81(1):54-60. doi: 10.1007/BF00439274.


Rats were trained to discriminate nicotine (0.4 mg/kg SC) from saline in a standard two-bar operant conditioning procedure with food reinforcement. The response to nicotine was dose-related and at the ED50 of 0.14 mg/kg, plasma nicotine concentrations were similar to those reported previously for cigarette smokers who inhale. The nicotine analogues anabasine and cytisine increased nicotine-appropriate responding in a dose-related manner. Animals predominantly responded on the saline-associated lever when administered drugs from a range of pharmacological classes, even at doses that were sufficiently large to reduce the overall numbers of responses. The results confirm that the nicotine discriminative stimulus is highly specific. Previous work has shown anabasine and cytisine to be active at nicotinic-cholinergic binding sites in rat brain. The finding that there is some correlation between the behavioural effects of these compounds and their actions at the nicotine binding site may indicate that the nicotine cue is mediated through a cholinergic receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Generalization, Psychological / drug effects
  • Male
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Nicotine