Role of α4- and α6-containing nicotinic receptors in the acquisition and maintenance of nicotine self-administration

Heather B Madsen, Harcharan S Koghar, Tine Pooters, Jim S Massalas, John Drago, Andrew J Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Tobacco smoking is a major cause of death and disease and as such there is a critical need for the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat nicotine addiction. Here, we utilize genetic and pharmacological tools to further investigate the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes that support intravenous self-administration of nicotine. α4-S248F mice contain a point mutation within the α4 nAChR subunit which confers increased sensitivity to nicotine and resistance to mecamylamine. Here, we show that acute administration of mecamylamine (2 mg/kg, i.p.) reduces established nicotine self-administration (0.05 mg/kg/infusion) in wild-type (WT), but not in α4-S248F heterozygous mice, demonstrating a role for α4* nAChRs in the modulation of ongoing nicotine self-administration. Administration of N,N-decane-1,10-diyl-bis-3-picolinium diiodide (bPiDI), a selective α6β2* nAChR antagonist, dose dependently (5 and 10 mg/kg, i.p.) impairs the acquisition of nicotine self-administration and reduces established nicotine self-administration in WT mice when administered acutely (10 mg/kg, i.p.). This was not due to a general reduction in locomotor activity and the same dose of bPiDI did not affect operant responding for sucrose. bPiDI treatment (10 mg/kg, i.p.) also impaired both the acquisition and maintenance of nicotine self-administration in α4-S248F heterozygous mice. This provides further evidence for the involvement of α6β2* nAChRs in the reinforcing effects of nicotine that underlies its ability to support ongoing self-administration. Taken together, selective targeting of α6β2* or α4α6β2* nAChRs may prove to be an effective strategy for the development of smoking cessation therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-12
Number of pages13
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Male
  • Mecamylamine
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotinic Antagonists
  • Picolines
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Self Administration
  • Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents


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