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Nicotine e-cigarette vapor inhalation and self-administration in a rodent model: Sex- and nicotine delivery-specific effects on metabolism and behavior.

  • Lallai, Valeria
  • Chen, Yen-Chu
  • Roybal, Mikayla M
  • Kotha, Eashan R
  • Fowler, James P
  • Staben, Andres
  • Cortez, Angelique
  • Fowler, Christie D
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2021
eScholarship - University of California
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E-cigarettes, which deliver vaporized nicotine, have dramatically risen in popularity in recent years, despite many unanswered questions about safety, efficacy in reducing dependence, and overall impact on public health. Other factors, such as sex, also play an important role in determining behavioral and neurochemical responses to drugs of abuse. In these studies, we sought to develop a protocol for vaporized e-cigarette nicotine self-administration in rats, as a foundation to better understand the differing effects of nicotine exposure routes on behavior and physiological function. We report a novel method that elicits robust nicotine vapor self-administration in male and female rats. Our findings indicate that 5-mg/ml nicotine vape solution provides a high level of consistency in lever-pressing behavior for both males and females. Moreover, in male rats, we find that such e-cigarette nicotine vapor induces similar blood levels of nicotine's main metabolite, cotinine, as that found with intravenous nicotine self-administration. Therefore, the breathing pattern during vapor exposure in males leads to similar levels of titrated nicotine intake as with intravenous nicotine self-administration. Interestingly, a differential effect was found in the females, in which the same conditions of vapor exposure led to decreased cotinine levels with vapor compared to intravenous self-administration. Finally, differences in nicotine-mediated locomotion provide further support of the physiological effects of e-cigarette vapor inhalation. Taken together, our findings reveal important sex differences in nicotine intake based on the route of exposure, and we further establish a protocol for nicotine vapor self-administration in rats.

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