Intravenous nicotine conditions a place preference in rats using an unbiased design

Jamie L. Wilkinson, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The rewarding effects of nicotine contribute to the chronic use of tobacco products. The place conditioning task, a widely used pre-clinical model to study drug reward, has lead to mixed results in rats when nicotine was administered subcutaneously or intraperitoneally; intravenously administered nicotine has not been examined. Further, much of the research demonstrating a nicotine-conditioned place preference in rats has used a biased design making these results susceptible to non-reward interpretations. The present study assessed whether intravenous (IV) nicotine would condition a place preference in an unbiased design and evaluated important behavioral parameters: nicotine dose, number of conditioning trials, and infusion-to-placement interval. In adult male Sprague Dawley rats, IV nicotine (0.03 mg/kg) conditioned a place preference after 8 conditioning trials. This conditioned preference was observed whether nicotine was infused 10 min before or immediately after placement in the paired environment for 10 min; infusing nicotine immediately after removal from the paired environment did not condition a preference after 4 or 8 conditioning trials. Four conditioning trials were not sufficient to condition a preference regardless of the temporal relation between the paired environment and 0.03 mg/kg nicotine. A 0.01 mg/kg dose of nicotine did not condition a place preference after 4 or 8 trials when infused immediately upon placement in the paired environment. Intravenous nicotine (0.03 mg/kg) has rewarding effects in an unbiased design suggesting that the place conditioning protocol used in the present study might be an especially useful model for studying the processes underlying the conditioned rewarding effects of nicotine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-264
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Conditioned place preference
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
  • Pavlovian conditioning
  • Reward
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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