Differences in nicotine-induced dopamine release and nicotine pharmacokinetics between Lewis and Fischer 344 rats

I. Sziraki, M. N. Lipovac, A. Hashim, H. Sershen, D. Allen, T. Cooper, P. Czobor, A. Lajtha

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Studies have shown a greater preference for the self-administration of drugs such as nicotine and cocaine in the Lewis rat strain than in the Fischer 344 strain. We examined some factors that could contribute to such a difference. The baseline level of extracellular dopamine in nucleus accumbens shell was about 3-times higher in Fischer rats than in Lewis rats (3.18 ± 0.26 vs. 1.09 ± 0.14 pg/ sample). Nicotine (50-100 μg/kg)-induced release of dopamine, expressed in absolute terms, was similar in the two strains. Dopamine release expressed in relative terms (as percent of baseline), however, was significantly greater in Lewis rats than in Fischer rats at 30 min after the first nicotine injection. We suggest that the relative increase is of more influence than the absolute level for determining preference; a lower physiological extracellular dopamine level thus represent a risk factor for increased preference. Amphetamine-induced dopamine release expressed in relative terms was not greater in the Lewis strain. In the initial time period of the microdialysis experiments, a sharper peak in nicotine-induced accumbal dopamine release in Lewis and a less but more sustained release in Fischer rats was observed. This release pattern paralleled the faster clearance of nicotine from blood of Lewis compared to Fischer rats. In tissue slices the electrically induced dopamine release was highest in the nucleus accumbens and lowest in the ventral tegmentum. A significant effect of nicotine was lowering the electrically induced release of dopamine in frontal cortex slices from Fischer brain and increasing this dopamine release in the ventral tegmentum of Lewis brain slices indicating that the ventral tegmentum, an area controlling dopamine release in the accumbens, is more responsive to nicotine in the Lewis rat. Nicotine levels tended to be more sustained in Fischer rats in different brain regions, although the difference in nicotine levels between the strains was not significant at any time period. Several factors contribute to nicotine preference, including the endogenous dopamine level, and the sensitivity of ventral tegmentum neurons to nicotine-induced dopamine release. Strain differences in pharmacokinetics of nicotine may also play a role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
JournalNeurochemical research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 29 2001



  • Dopamine
  • Nicotine
  • Rats
  • Strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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