The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether brain reward function decreases during withdrawal from nicotine and methamphetamine, and whether decreased reward function is related to aversion during withdrawal from these drugs. For that purpose, male Sprague-Dawley rats were chronically infused subcutaneously with 9 mg/kg per day nicotine, or with 6 mg/kg per day methamphetamine using osmotic minipumps. In an intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) paradigm, chronic infusion of nicotine and methamphetamine decreased the thresholds for lateral hypothalamic ICSS, whereas their antagonists, mecamylamine and haloperidol increased the ICSS thresholds in the rats treated with nicotine and methamphetamine, respectively. In a conditioned place aversion paradigm, mecamylamine and haloperidol produced place aversion in nicotine- and methamphetamine-infused rats, respectively. Interestingly, elevations in ICSS reward thresholds and place aversion during mecamylamine-precipitated nicotine withdrawal were almost the same in magnitude as those observed during haloperidol-precipitated methamphetamine withdrawal. The present study indicates that 1) brain reward function decreased during nicotine and methamphetamine withdrawal, and 2) a decrease in reward function may reflect the negative affective state (aversion) during withdrawal from nicotine and methamphetamine.
Keywords: Nicotine, methamphetamine, intracranial self-stimulation, conditioned place aversion, brain reward system, withdrawal, Amphetamin, ethanol
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