Rats were trained on an FR10 schedule of food reinforcement to press one lever after pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), 20 mg/kg, IP, and an alternate lever after saline. After acute nicotine, 0.64 mg/kg, SC, 35% of the rats pressed the PTZ-lever. Diazepam, 5 mg/kg, IP, blocked the stimulus produced by PTZ, and mecamylamine, 5 mg/kg, IP, blocked the stimulus produced by nicotine. Training was then suspended and rats were treated with nicotine, at 8-h intervals, 0.64 mg/kg on the 1st day, and 1.25 mg/kg on subsequent days, for 21 days. To determine whether nicotine withdrawal substitutes for the stimulus produced by PTZ, rats were tested with saline at various times after chronic nicotine injections. Data from this part of the study were replicated in another group given nicotine for 15 days. Saline at 8 h after nicotine (five determinations each group) produced a small but stable degree of PTZ lever selection (35±4%). At 48 h after termination of nicotine treatment, the percentage of rats selecting the PTZ lever (50%) was greater than that in a control group tested after an equivalent period without training. The PTZ-like stimulus detected after chronic nicotine was not altered by mecamylamine, was additive with PTZ, and was blocked by diazepam. These data suggest that withdrawal from chronic nicotine produces a weak PTZ-like stimulus, which can be antagonized by an anxiolytic drug.
- Drug dependence