Behavioral characteristics and pharmacological manipulations of a nicotine-entrainable circadian oscillator

Andrea G. Gillman, Joseph K. Leffel, Ann E.K. Kosobud, William Timberlake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Chronic daily administration of nicotine and other drugs of abuse has been found to entrain pre- and post-drug circadian locomotor activity episodes that oscillate on a 24-h schedule and persist for several days after administration ceases. This drug-entrainable oscillator system could conceivably lead to circadian rhythms of drug seeking and drug use in human drug addicts. The present study (1) characterizes the ability of daily nicotine administration to entrain circadian wheel-running activity episodes in rats across a range of doses, lighting schedules, and food access; and (2) tests whether pre- and post-nicotine episodes can be altered through pharmacological manipulations. Adult female rats were housed in wheel boxes for 35-60d, and both wheel-running and feeding-related behaviors were measured continuously. Following acclimation, nicotine or saline was administered for 16-24d, and the rats were left undisturbed for several test days to observe the persistence of nicotine-entrained activity. The results showed that nicotine dose-dependently entrains wheel-running activity, and the highest dose of 1.0mg/kg produces robust pre- and post-nicotine circadian activity episodes under constant, fixed, and variable light/dark schedules. In the pharmacological manipulation experiment, nicotine-entrained rats were administered one of seven pharmacological treatments (varenicline, mecamylamine, acamprosate, topiramate, naltrexone, SB-334867, or bupropion) in place of the nicotine injection for 2d, and the rats were not disturbed for four subsequent days. Most of the treatment drugs significantly reduced post-nicotine activity episodes, but only three treatments affected pre-nicotine episodes: the μ- and κ-opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone, the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-334867, and the AMPA (2-amino-3-(3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazol-4-yl)propanoic acid)/kainate antagonist topiramate. These results show that chronic daily nicotine administration is a robust zeitgeber that dose-dependently entrains a nonphotic oscillator system that includes opioid, orexin, and glutamate pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-869
Number of pages15
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


  • Addiction
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Episodic entrainment
  • Locomotor activity
  • Naltrexone
  • Nicotine
  • SB-334867
  • Topiramate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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