Psychology, Department of


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Robison CL, Cova N, Madore V, Allen T, Barrett S and Charntikov S (2023) Assessment of ethanol and nicotine interactions using a reinforcer demand modeling with grouped and individual levels of analyses in a long-access self-administration model using male rats. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 17:1291128. 10.3389/fnbeh.2023.1291128


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Previous reports have indicated the reciprocal effects of nicotine and ethanol on their rewarding and reinforcing properties, but studies using methodological approaches resembling substance use in vulnerable populations are lacking. In our study, rats first self-administered ethanol, and their sensitivity to ethanol’s reinforcing effects was assessed using a reinforcer demand modeling approach. Subsequently, rats were equipped with intravenous catheters to self-administer nicotine, and their sensitivity to nicotine’s reinforcing effects was evaluated using the same approach. In the final phase, rats were allowed to self-administer ethanol and nicotine concurrently, investigating the influence of one substance on the rate of responding for the other substance. Group analyses revealed notable differences in demand among sucrose, sweetened ethanol, and ethanolalone, with sucrose demonstrating the highest demand and ethanol-alone exhibiting greater sensitivity to changes in cost. At the individual level, our study finds significant correlations between rats’ demand for sucrose and sweetened ethanol, suggesting parallel efforts for both substances. Our individual data also suggest interconnections in the elasticity of demand for sweetened ethanol and ethanol-alone, as well as a potential relationship in price response patterns between ethanol and nicotine. Furthermore, concurrent self-administration of ethanol and nicotine at the group level displayed reciprocal effects, with reduced responding for nicotine in the presence of ethanol and increased responding for ethanol in the presence of nicotine. This study provides valuable insights into modeling the co-use of ethanol and nicotine and assessing their interaction effects using reinforcer demand modeling and concurrent self-administration or noncontingent administration tests. These findings contribute to our understanding of the complex interplay between ethanol and nicotine and have implications for elucidating the underlying mechanisms involved in polydrug use.

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