Tobacco's minor alkaloids: effects on place conditioning and nucleus accumbens dopamine release in adult and adolescent rats
Tobacco products are some of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs worldwide. Besides nicotine, alkaloids in tobacco include cotinine, myosmine, and anatabine. Scientific investigation of these constituents and their contribution to tobacco dependence is less well developed than for nicotine. The present study evaluated the nucleus accumbens dopamine-releasing properties and rewarding and/or aversive properties of nicotine (0.2-0.8mg/kg), cotinine (0.5-5.0mg/kg), anatabine (0.5-5.0mg/kg), and myosmine (5.0-20.0mg/kg) through in vivo microdialysis and place conditioning, respectively, in adult and adolescent male rats. Nicotine increased dopamine release at both ages, and anatabine and myosmine increased dopamine release in adults, but not adolescents. The dopamine release results were not related to place conditioning, as nicotine and cotinine had no effect on place conditioning, whereas anatabine and myosmine produced aversion in both ages. While the nucleus accumbens shell is hypothesized to play a role in strengthening drug-context associations following initiation of drug use, it may have little involvement in the motivational effects of tobacco constituents once these associations have been acquired. Effects of myosmine and anatabine on dopamine release may require a fully developed dopamine system, since no effects of these tobacco alkaloids were observed during adolescence. In summary, while anatabine and myosmine-induced dopamine release in nucleus accumbens may play a role in tobacco dependence in adults, the nature of that role remains to be elucidated.