Compensatory Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats During Reduced Access to Nicotine: An Animal Model of Smoking Reduction

Andrew C. Harris, Danielle Burroughs, Paul R. Pentel, Mark G. LeSage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The ability of smoking reduction (e.g., decreasing cigarettes per day) to produce significant reductions in toxin exposure is limited by compensatory increases in smoking behavior. Characterizing factors contributing to the marked individual variability in compensation may be useful for understanding this phenomenon. The goal of the current study was to develop an animal model of smoking reduction and to begin to examine potential behavioral and pharmacokinetic contributors to compensation. Rats trained for nicotine self-administration (NSA) in unlimited access sessions were exposed to a progressive decrease in duration of access to nicotine from 23-hr/day to 10-, 6-, and 2-hr/day. Following a return to 23 hr/day access and extinction, single-dose nicotine pharmacokinetic parameters were determined. Rats exhibited a reduction in total daily nicotine intake during reduced access to NSA, but decreases in nicotine intake were not proportional to decreases in access duration. Compensatory increases in hourly infusion rate were also observed when access was decreased. The magnitude of compensation differed considerably among animals. Early session infusion rate during baseline was significantly correlated, while nicotine clearance was moderately correlated, with 1 measure of compensation. Infusion rates were transiently increased compared to prereduction levels when unlimited access was restored, and this effect was greatest in animals that had exhibited the greatest levels of compensation. These findings indicate that rats exhibit compensatory increases in NSA during reduced access to nicotine, with substantial individual variability. This model may be useful for characterizing underlying factors and potential consequences of compensatory smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • compensation
  • nicotine
  • rats
  • self-administration
  • smoking reduction

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