Nicotine reinstatement of nicotine self-administration after long-term extinction

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Sep;127(2):102-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02805981.


The effect of non-contingent priming injections of nicotine on the reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviour was studied in rats following the long-term extinction of nicotine self-administration. Male rats were trained to lever press for 0.03 mg/kg per infusion of intravenous nicotine. Nicotine maintained a robust self-administration behaviour (11.5 +/- 1.2; mean+/-SEM infusions/1-h session). When nicotine availability was discontinued, and only a non-contingent saline infusion was presented to the experimental subjects at the beginning of each daily session, responding for the drug-paired lever decreased to low values. After 4-13 sessions, responding extinguished. During this "extinction" period, non-contingent priming infusions of nicotine 0.001, 0.003, 0.01 or 0.03 mg/kg per infusion induced reinstatement of responding for the drug-paired lever. The increased responding, compared with the corresponding previous day on saline, was observed at all four nicotine doses but was not statistically significant for the higher priming dose (0.03 mg/kg per infusion). These preliminary results indicate that nicotine priming is able to induce reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviour in rats similarly to other reinforcing drugs. The present findings show analogies with similar phenomena described in ex-smokers and support the addictive role of nicotine in tobacco smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration
  • Smoking
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Nicotine