Electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) use is maintained by the positive reinforcement associated with preferred flavors. These flavors become conditioned reinforcers through pairings with primary reinforcers. This study sought to extend prior research with intravenous nicotine self-administration and develop a more ecologically valid preclinical model of aerosol self-administration in rats that incorporated flavors paired with sucrose. Rats were first trained to respond for oral sucrose with or without raspberry flavor to establish the flavor as a conditioned reinforcer for some groups. Rats were then exposed to aerosol self-administration. All groups responded for raspberry-flavored aerosol with or without nicotine. Rats responded more for raspberry flavored sucrose than unflavored sucrose. Despite raspberry increasing responding for sucrose, the flavor did not function as a conditioned reinforcer during aerosol self-administration and did not increase responding for nicotine. Throughout the aerosol self-administration phase, most groups responded more on the active than inactive lever, and some groups increased their response when the fixed ratio value was increased. At the end of the study, rats in nicotine groups earned similar or fewer aerosol deliveries than rats in vehicle groups. Aerosolized nicotine did not function as a reinforcer in this study, whereas aerosolized raspberry flavor may have maintained self-administration. Further preclinical investigation is needed to articulate the impact of flavors on ENDS use and whether they offset some aversive effects of nicotine or maintain responding on their own. If flavors reduce some aversive effects of self-administered nicotine, then policies to regulate flavors in e-liquids are prudent.
Development of a nicotine aerosol self-administration model in rats and the effects of e-liquid flavors
Marusich, J. A., & Palmatier, M. I. (2023). Development of a nicotine aerosol self-administration model in rats and the effects of e-liquid flavors. Behavioural Pharmacology, (2-3). https://doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0000000000000717
To contact an RTI author, request a report, or for additional information about publications by our experts, send us your request.
Multifaceted risk for non-suicidal self-injury only versus suicide attempt in a population-based cohort of adults
The influence of mediators on the relationship between antenatal opioid agonist exposure and the severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome
A scoping review of empirical research on prescription drug promotion