The nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine precipitates nicotine abstinence syndrome in the rat

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1994 Jun;115(1-2):180-4. doi: 10.1007/BF02244770.


Recently, a rodent model of nicotine abstinence syndrome has been developed based on observing the frequency of spontaneous behavioral signs following termination of continuous subcutaneous infusion of nicotine tartrate. In the present study, the nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine precipitated an abstinence syndrome in nicotine-dependent rats. Twelve rats were each infused for 7 days with 9 mg/kg per day nicotine tartrate in saline via Alzet osmotic minipumps; another 12 rats were sham-operated and remained nicotine-naive. Six rats from each group received 1 mg/kg mecamylamine in saline SC immediately before a 30-min observation, while the remaining six rats from each group received saline alone. Nicotine-infused rats receiving mecamylamine exhibited significantly more (P < 0.01), overall abstinence signs than all other groups. In terms of categories of signs, they displayed significantly more gasps/writhes, teeth chatter/chews, shakes/tremors and ptosis. In a second experiment utilizing only nicotine-naive rats, a far higher dose of mecamylamine (5 mg/kg sc) induced a quasi-nicotine abstinence syndrome. The results provide further validation for this rodent model of nicotine abstinence syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mecamylamine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Nicotinic Antagonists
  • Mecamylamine
  • Nicotine