Global treatment of drug addiction costs society billions of dollars annually, but current psychopharmacological therapies have not been successful at desired rates. The increasing number of individuals suffering from substance abuse has turned attention to what makes some people more vulnerable to drug addiction than others. One personality trait that stands out as a contributing factor is novelty seeking. Novelty seeking, affected by both genetic and environmental factors, is defined as the tendency to desire novel stimuli and environments. It can be measured in humans through questionnaires and in rodents using behavioral tasks. On the behavioral level, both human and rodent studies demonstrate that high novelty seeking can predict the initiation of drug use and a transition to compulsive drug use and create a propensity to relapse. These predictions are valid for several drugs of abuse, such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamine, and opiates. On the molecular level, both novelty seeking and addiction are modulated by the central reward system in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the overlapping neural substrates of both parameters. In sum, the novelty-seeking trait can be valuable for predicting individual vulnerability to drug addiction and for generating successful treatment for patients with substance abuse disorders.
To study individual differences in nicotine preference and intake, male and female rats were given free access to a choice of oral nicotine (10 or 20 mg/L) or water for 24 hours/day for periods of at least six weeks, starting at adolescence or adulthood. A total of 341 rats, were used in four different experiments; weight, nicotine intake and total liquid consumption were recorded weekly. Results show that rats can discriminate nicotine from water, can regulate their intake, and that there are readily detected individual differences in nicotine preference. Ward analyses indicated that the animals could be divided into minimum, median and maximum preferring subgroups in all experiments. The effect of saccharine on nicotine intake was also evaluated; although the addition of saccharine increased total intake, rats drank unsweetened nicotine solutions and those with higher preferences for nicotine, preferred nicotine over water with or without saccharine added. Nicotine reduced weight gain and the effect was more pronounced in females than males. The average nicotine consumption of adolescent rats was higher than adults and nicotine exposure during adolescence reduced nicotine intake in adult rats. About half of the rats which had access to nicotine as adolescents and also as adults had a persistent pattern of consumption; the behavior was very stable in the female minimum preferring groups and a much higher ratio of rats sustained their adolescent behavior as adults. The change in preference was more pronounced when there was an interval between adolescent and adult exposure; female rats showed a more stable behavior than males suggesting a greater role for environmental influences on males. In conclusion, marked individual differences were observed in oral nicotine intake as measured in a continuous access 2-bottle choice test. Age and sex of the subjects and previous exposure to nicotine are significant factors which affect preference in rats.
Insulin action on hippocampus improves cognitive function, and obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with decreased cognitive function. Cerebral microvasculature plays a critical role in maintaining cerebral vitality and function by supplying nutrients, oxygen, and hormones such as insulin to cerebral parenchyma, including hippocampus. In skeletal muscle, insulin actively regulates microvascular opening and closure, and this action is impaired in the insulin-resistant states. To examine insulin's action on hippocampal microvasculature and parenchyma and the impact of diet-induced obesity, we determined cognitive function and microvascular insulin responses, parenchyma insulin responses, and capillary density in the hippocampus in 2- and 8-mo-old rats on chow diet and 8-mo-old rats on a long-term high-fat diet (6 mo). Insulin infusion increased hippocampal microvascular perfusion in rats on chow diet by ~80-90%. High-fat diet feeding completely abolished insulin-mediated microvascular responses and protein kinase B phosphorylation but did not alter the capillary density in the hippocampus. This was associated with a significantly decreased cognitive function assessed using both the two-trial spontaneous alternation behavior test and the novel object recognition test. As the microvasculature provides the needed endothelial surface area for delivery of nutrients, oxygen, and insulin to hippocampal parenchyma, we conclude that hippocampal microvascular insulin resistance may play a critical role in the development of cognitive impairment seen in obesity and diabetes. Our results suggest that improvement in hippocampal microvascular insulin sensitivity might help improve or reverse cognitive function in the insulin-resistant states.
Smoking is the major cause of preventable deaths worldwide, and although there is a decline in overall smoking prevalence in developed countries, the decline in women is less pronounced than in men. Women become dependent faster and experience greater difficulties in quitting. Similar trends have been observed in animal models of nicotine/tobacco addiction. Individual differences in vulnerability to drug abuse are also observed in nicotine/ tobacco addiction and point to the importance of sex differences. This Review, summarizes findings from three experimental approaches used to depict nicotine preference in animal models, intravenous and oral nicotine selfadministration and nicotine-induced conditioned place preference. Nicotine preference is considered to be reflected in the animal's motivation to administer the drug (intravenously or orally) or to prefer an environment paired with the presence of the drug (conditioned place preference). These approaches all point to the importance of sex and age of the subjects; the preference of females and adolescents appear to be more pronounced than that of males and adults, respectively. A closer look at these factors will help us understand the mechanisms that underlie nicotine addiction and develop strategies to cope. Ignoring sex differences and reaching conclusions based only on studies using male subjects has resulted in erroneous generalizations in the past. Sex differences in nicotine preference have been clearly documented, and awareness on this aspect of nicotine dependence will significantly impact our success in translational research. V C 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Persons infected with HIV-1 often develop neurologic disorders despite receiving highly active anti-retroviral therapy. Although the underlying mechanism is largely undetermined, our previous RNA-seq-based study showed that the expression of many genes was altered in the central nervous system (CNS) of HIV-1 transgenic (HIV-1Tg) rats. Because nicotine, a natural agonist of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, exhibits a neuroprotective effect, we presently tested the hypothesis that nicotine restores the expression of altered genes in the CNS of HIV-1Tg rats. Adult male HIV-1Tg and F344 control strain rats were injected with either nicotine (0.25 mg/kg) or saline subcutaneously twice a day for 17 days. Gene expression in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsal hippocampus (HIP), and dorsal striatum (STR) was evaluated using the RNA deep sequencing technique. We found that about 20% of the altered genes in the HIV-1Tg rat were affected by nicotine in each brain region, with the expression of most restored. Analysis of the restored genes showed distinct pathways corrected by nicotine in different brain regions of HIV-1Tg rats. Specifically, the two most significantly restored pathways were Wnt/β-catenin signaling and ephrin B signaling in the PFC, cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB) signaling and glutathione metabolism pathway in the HIP, and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and calcium signaling in the STR. Together, our findings indicate that cholinergic modulators such as nicotine have beneficial effects on HIV-1-induced neurologic deficits.
BackgroundHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are characterized by synaptic damage and neuronal loss in the brain. Excessive glutamatergic transmission and loss of cholinergic neurons are the major indicators of HAND. Nicotine acts as a cholinergic channel modulator, and its cognitive-enhancing effect in neurodegenerative and cognitive disorders has been documented. However, it is unclear whether nicotine has any positive effect on memory and synaptic plasticity formation in HAND.MethodsWe investigated the effects of nicotine on synaptic plasticity and hippocampus–prefrontal cortex (PFC)–amygdala-dependent memory formation in the HIV-1 transgenic (Tg) and F344 control rats.ResultsChronic nicotine treatment (0.4 mg/kg nicotine, base, subcutaneously) significantly attenuated the cognitive deficits in the HIV-1Tg rats in both the spatial and contextual fear memories but impaired the contextual learning memory in the F344 rats. To determine the role of nicotine in the synaptic dysfunction caused by HIV-1 proteins, we analyzed the expression of key representative genes related to synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, PFC, and amygdala of the HIV-1Tg and F344 rats using a custom-designed qRT-PCR array. The HIV-1 proteins significantly altered the glutamate receptor-mediated intracellular calcium cascade and its downstream signaling cascade in a brain region-specific manner. Further, chronic nicotine treatment reversed the effect of HIV-1 proteins on the expression of genes involved in synaptic plasticity in the three brain regions. The effects of nicotine differed significantly in the HIV-1Tg and F344 rats.ConclusionsOur findings indicate that nicotine can attenuate the effect of HIV viral proteins on cognitive function and produce a brain region- and strain-specific effect on the intracellular signaling cascades involved in synaptic plasticity and memory formation.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13041-015-0134-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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