The initiation of nicotine and tobacco use peaks during adolescence. How adolescent males and females differ based on the acquisition of nicotine use and nicotine-seeking behavior is less understood. Our current studies develop a preclinical intravenous self-administration and reinstatement paradigm in male and female Sprague Dawley rats to evaluate how sex impacts the acquisition of nicotine self-administration and nicotine-seeking, when behavior is initiated during adolescence.
Male and female adolescent rats were food trained under fixed-ratio one (FR1) schedule of reinforcement and progressively increased to FR5. Animals were implanted with catheters and began nicotine self-administration (0.015 mg/kg/infusion) at FR5 during adolescence on postnatal day 34. Upon reaching stable reinforced responding, animals were tested for progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement followed by extinction via the removal of drug and associated cues for a minimum of 5 days or until responding was reduced to ≤25% of baseline. Reinstatement testing began for cue only, nicotine only, and a combination of nicotine plus cues using a Latin square design. Animals returned to extinction conditions for two-days minimum between testing.
No sex differences were observed for natural rewards, acquisition and progressive ratio schedules of nicotine self-administration, days to extinction, or reinstatement condition.
Our findings provide evidence that sex does not impact natural rewards, nicotine reinforcement, reward, and reinstatement, when behavior is initiated during adolescence. Our study offers a feasible approach for assessing nicotine-seeking in male and female Sprague Dawley rats during unique developmental window of adolescence.
This study demonstrates the impact of nicotine and associated cues in the reinstatement of nicotine-seeking in male and female rats when behavior is initiated during adolescence. Findings support the equivalent impact of nicotine and the nonpharmacological stimuli of cues between male and female adolescent rats that began nicotine self-administration during adolescence.