Reinstatement and spontaneous recovery of nicotine seeking in rats

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1997 Apr;130(4):396-403. doi: 10.1007/s002130050256.


Reinstatement and spontaneous recovery of previously extinguished nicotine-taking behavior were examined in rats. Male subjects were trained to self-administer nicotine (30 microg/kg per infusion, IV; one 60-min session per day for 3 weeks). Extinction sessions were then given for 5-10 days during which saline was substituted for nicotine. Subsequently, in the first set of tests for nicotine seeking, the reinstatement of lever presses that previously delivered nicotine was examined after priming injections of saline and nicotine (75, 150 and 300 microg/kg, SC; and 30 and 60 microg/kg, IV). In the second set of tests for nicotine-seeking, rats were tested after an additional 21-day drug-free period during which they were not exposed to the self-administration chambers (a test for the spontaneous recovery of drug seeking), and after priming injections of nicotine (150 and 300 microg/kg, SC). Reinstatement of extinguished food-reinforced behavior after exposure to nicotine was also determined. Priming injections of nicotine reinstated nicotine seeking regardless of the route of administration. In addition, previously extinguished nicotine seeking recovered spontaneously after a 21-day period during which rats were not exposed to the drug-taking environment. Nicotine also reinstated extinguished food-reinforced behavior in rats with a history of nicotine self-administration, but not in drug-naive rats. The present results extend previous work with opioid and stimulant drugs on reinstatement of drug seeking by the self-administered drug. It also appears that, as with other positive reinforcers, the mere passage of time is a sufficient condition for the spontaneous recovery of extinguished nicotine seeking.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Extinction, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Self Administration


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine