Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed daily to nicotine (1.0 mg/kg, subcutaneous), or vehicle (1 mL/kg saline, subcutaneous) during adolescence (post-natal day [P] 28-41). Adult nicotine self-administration (0.02 mg/kg/infusion, intravenous) was assessed beginning on P75 on fixed-ratio 1 (FR1), fixed-interval 1 min (FI1), and progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement.
Adolescent nicotine pre-exposure did not affect adult nicotine self-administration on the simple FR1 schedule, however increased intake and responding for nicotine was observed when a short delay was implemented on an FI1 schedule of reinforcement.
Adolescence is a critical period when the brain is especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine. Nicotine exposure in adolescence enhances susceptibility to increased nicotine intake in adulthood on a reinforcement schedule more reflective of human nicotine intake patterns, and this effect can extend into adulthood even after termination of nicotine exposure during adolescence.
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