Effects of pharmacological manipulation of the kappa opioid receptors on the aversive effects of nicotine

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Nicotine, an addictive component of tobacco smoke, produces both rewarding and aversive effects. Increasing the aversive effects of nicotine may help in promoting smoking cessation. However, neural targets mediating the aversive effects of nicotine have not been fully identified. In this study, we evaluated the role of kappa opioid receptors (KORs) in the aversive effects of nicotine (0.4 mg/kg, base; s.c.) using the nicotine-induced conditioned taste aversion (CTA) model in Wistar rats. The KORs were activated using the selective KOR agonist (±)U-50,488H (0, 0.03, 0.15 & 0.3mg/kg; s.c.) and inhibited using the KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI; 0, 15 & 30mg/kg; s.c.) in separate groups of rats using a between-subjects design. Pretreatment with the KOR agonist (±)U-50,488H (0.3mg/kg) significantly increased aversion for the nicotine-associated solution. Additionally, (±)U-50,488H (0.3mg/kg) on its own induced aversion to the flavored solution associated with it even in the absence of nicotine, suggesting that the KOR agonist induced increase in nicotine-induced aversion was an additive effect. Interestingly, administration of the KOR antagonist nor-BNI (30mg/kg) prior to conditioning with nicotine/saline, but not after conditioning with nicotine/saline, attenuated nicotine-induced aversive effects compared to saline controls. Taken together, these data suggest a role for KORs in the aversive effects of nicotine.

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