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Previous studies have suggested that repeated exposure of rats to the drug or to the experimental environment is necessary to observe nicotine-induced locomotor stimulation. In the present study the role of habituation to the experimental environment on the stimulant effect of nicotine in rats was examined. In addition, the role of dopamine receptors in mediating nicotine-induced locomotor stimulation was investigated by examining the effects of selective D1 and D2 dopamine receptor antagonists on activity induced by nicotine. Locomotor activity was assessed in male Sprague-Dawley rats tested in photocell cages. Nicotine (1.0 mg/kg) caused a significant increase in locomotor activity in rats that were habituated to the test environment, but had only a weak and delayed stimulant action in rats that were unfamiliar with the test environment. The stimulant action of nicotine was blocked by the central nicotinic antagonist mecamylamine but not by the peripheral nicotinic blocker hexamethonium, indicating that the response is probably mediated by central nicotinic receptors. Nicotine-induced hyperactivity was blocked by the selective D1 antagonist SCH 23390, the selective D2 antagonist raclopride and the D1/D2 antagonist fluphenazine. Pretreatment with the D2 agonist PHNO enhanced nicotine-induced hyperactivity, whereas the D1 agonist SKF 38393 had no effect. The results indicate that acute nicotine injection induces a pronounced hyperactivity in rats habituated to the test environment. The effect appears to be mediated by central nicotine receptors, possibly located on dopaminergic neurons, and also requires the activation of both D1 and D2 dopamine receptors.


Journal article


Psychopharmacology (Berl)

Publication Date





343 - 350


Animals, Dopamine Antagonists, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Male, Motor Activity, Nicotine, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Receptors, Dopamine, Receptors, Dopamine D1, Receptors, Dopamine D2