Impact of acute nicotine exposure on monoaminergic systems in adolescent and adult male and female rats.

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Adolescence is a period of risk for beginning tobacco addiction. Differential neural response to nicotine in adolescents vs. adults may help explain the increased vulnerability to nicotine self-administration seen with adolescent onset. We indexed the effects of acute nicotine ditartrate (0.4 mg/kg, salt weight) administration on dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5HT) as well as the DA metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) in several brain regions (nucleus accumbens, striatum and frontal cortex) of 6-week old (adolescent) and 10-week old (young adult) Sprague-Dawley rats. When nicotine was administered DA concentrations in the accumbens were significantly higher in adults than in adolescents, whereas there was no age-related difference without nicotine. However neither age group showed a significant effect of nicotine vs. age-matched controls. DA turnover in the accumbens was significantly greater in adolescent females in response to nicotine, but adult females did not show this effect and neither did males of either age group. DA turnover in the striatum was significantly higher in adolescents than adults regardless of nicotine administration. In the frontal cortex, there was a more complex effect. Without nicotine, adult male rats had higher DA concentrations than adolescent males, whereas female rats did not differ from adolescent to adult ages. When given nicotine, the age effect was no longer seen in males. However, there was not a significant effect of nicotine vs. age-matched controls in either age group. No age or nicotine effects were seen in females. 5HT in the accumbens was significantly increased by nicotine administration in adults but not in adolescents. Altered neural responsivity of adolescents to nicotine-induced neural effects particularly in accumbens DA and 5HT may be related to the increased nicotine dose concentrations they self-administer.





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Eddins, Donnie, Ann Petro and Edward D Levin (2022). Impact of acute nicotine exposure on monoaminergic systems in adolescent and adult male and female rats. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 93. p. 107122. 10.1016/ Retrieved from

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Edward Daniel Levin

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Levin is Chief of the Neurobehavioral Research Lab in the Psychiatry Department of Duke University Medical Center. His primary academic appointment is as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He also has secondary appointments in the Department Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. His primary research effort is to understand basic neural interactions underlying cognitive function and addiction and to apply this knowledge to better understand cognitive dysfunction and addiction disorders and to develop novel therapeutic treatments.

The three main research components of his laboratory are focused on the themes of the basic neurobiology of cognition and addiction, neurobehavioral toxicology and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for cognitive dysfunction and substance abuse. Currently, our principal research focus concerns nicotine. We have documented the basic effects of nicotine on learning memory and attention as well as nicotine self-administration. We are continuing with more mechanistic studies in rat models using selective lesions, local infusions and neurotransmitter interaction studies. We have found that nicotine improves memory performance not only in normal rats, but also in rats with lesions of hippocampal and basal forebrain connections. We are concentrating on alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor subtypes in the hippocampus, amygdala , thalamus and frontal cortex and how they interact with dopamine D1 and D2 and glutamate NMDA systems with regard to memory and addiction. I am also conducting studies on human cognitive behavior. We have current studies to assess nicotine effects on attention, memory and mental processing speed in schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the area of neurobehavioral toxicology, I have continuing projects to characterize the adverse effects of prenatal and adolescent nicotine exposure. Our primary project in neurobehavioral toxicology focuses on the cognitive deficits caused by the marine toxins. The basic and applied aims of our research complement each other nicely. The findings concerning neural mechanisms underlying cognitive function help direct the behavioral toxicology and therapeutic development studies, while the applied studies provide important functional information concerning the importance of the basic mechanisms under investigation.

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