Rationale: Tobacco use is a serious health problem in the USA, and this problem is potentiated in patients with schizophrenia. The reward system is implicated in schizophrenia and may contribute to the high comorbidity between nicotine use and schizophrenia, but very little research has been done on the topic. The reward-enhancement effect of nicotine has been shown to be important in nicotine use, but there have been no studies on this effect in animal models of schizophrenia. Objectives: This study was designed to determine the effects of phencyclidine, used to model negative symptoms of schizophrenia, on self-administration of nicotine with or without a co-occurring sensory reinforcer [i.e., visual stimulus (VS)] in rats. Methods: Phencyclidine (2.0 mg/kg) was administered before each of seven nicotine self-administration sessions (0.01 mg/kg/inf) after which rats (n∈=∈8-9 per group) were given 7 days of extinction without phencyclidine pretreatment. Reinstatement using phencyclidine (2.0 mg/kg), nicotine (0.2 mg/kg), and yohimbine (1.25 mg/kg, a pharmacological stressor) was tested after extinction to determine if previous exposure to phencyclidine would alter reinstatement of active lever pressing. Results: Phencyclidine initially decreased nicotine self-administration but only in the groups with a concurrent VS. This decrease in self-administration dissipated after 5 days. During reinstatement, rats that had previously received phencyclidine during self-administration with a VS were more sensitive to stress-induced reinstatement than any other group. Conclusions: These results show a transitory effect of phencyclidine on nicotine self-administration. Phencyclidine may induce a potential sensitivity to pharmacological stressors contributing to reinstatement of nicotine.
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