Recent evidence suggests that adolescent and young adult females may be particularly responsive to nicotine use interventions that include exercise or environmental enrichment. This possibility was addressed in the current study by comparing the efficacy of exercise versus non-exercise environmental enrichment (saccharin) during abstinence at reducing subsequent nicotine-seeking/relapse vulnerability in an adolescent-onset rat model. The efficacy of each intervention was examined as a function of estrous cycle phase given findings indicating that hormonal status influences relapse vulnerability and treatment outcome in females. Once adolescent female rats acquired nicotine self-administration, they were given 23-h/day access to nicotine (0.01mg/kg/infusion) for 10days. Following the last self-administration session, rats began a 10-day forced abstinence period with 2-h/day access to an unlocked wheel (exercise, n=15), a bottle containing a saccharin-sweetened solution (0.25%; saccharin, n=19), or without access to a wheel or saccharin (control, n=20). Nicotine-seeking, as assessed under an extinction/cued-induced reinstatement procedure, was examined on day 11 of abstinence. Levels of nicotine-seeking were highest in females tested during estrus as compared to females tested during non-estrus phases. Exercise or saccharin during abstinence reduced nicotine-seeking in females tested during estrus, but neither affected the low levels of nicotine-seeking observed in females tested during non-estrus phases, presumably due to a floor effect. These results demonstrate that exercise or saccharin during abstinence decrease nicotine-seeking, and suggest that either would be effective as an early intervention for nicotine use and addiction in females.
Rationale: Epidemiological data suggest that menthol may increase vulnerability to cigarette/ nicotine use and relapse. While menthol's sensory properties are often attributed as the underlying cause of the enhanced vulnerability, an alternative possibility is that they are mediated via pharmacological interactions with nicotine.Objective: This study addressed the possibility that menthol enhances nicotine intake and relapse vulnerability via pharmacological interactions with nicotine using a concurrent intravenous menthol/nicotine self-administration procedure.Methods: Following acquisition, adolescent rats were given 23-hr/day access to nicotine (0.01 mg/kg/infusion), nicotine plus menthol (0.16, 0.32, or 0.64 mg/kg/infusion), or menthol alone (0.16, 0.32, 0.64 mg/kg/infusion) for a total of 10 days. Nicotine-seeking was assessed using an extinction/cue-induced reinstatement procedure following 10-days of forced abstinence. We also assessed the effect of menthol (0.32 mg/kg/infusion) on progressive-ratio responding for nicotine (0.01 mg/kg/infusion).Results: Menthol decreased PR responding for nicotine, but did not affect self-administration under extended access conditions. The low dose of menthol tended to decrease subsequent extinction responding, and was not different from menthol alone, whereas, the high dose decreased reinstatement responding. Although not significant, the highest levels of extinction responding were observed in a minority of rats in the moderate and high menthol-nicotine groups; rats in these groups also took longer to extinguish. Conclusions:Taken together, these results demonstrate that pharmacological interactions of menthol with nicotine reduce, rather than increase, nicotine's reinforcing effects and some measures of relapse vulnerability. Importantly, however, moderate and high menthol doses may increase some aspects of relapse vulnerability in a minority of individuals.
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