Locomotor and stress responses to nicotine differ in adolescent and adult rats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Junran Cao
  • James D. Belluzzi
  • Sandra E. Loughlin
  • Jasmin M. Dao
  • Yi Ling Chen
  • Frances M. Leslie

External Institution(s)

  • University of Virginia
  • University of California at Irvine


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatusPublished - Jul 1 2010


Since adolescence is a critical period for the initiation of tobacco use, we have systematically compared behavioral and endocrine responses to nicotine in Sprague-Dawley rats of both sexes at early adolescence (postnatal day (P) 28), mid- adolescence (P38) and adulthood (P90). Locomotion and center time in a novel open field were evaluated for 30. min following intravenous injection of saline or nicotine (60μg/kg), followed by measurement of plasma corticosterone. Complex age and sex differences in behavioral and endocrine response were observed, which were dependent on the functional endpoint examined. Whereas there were age differences in nicotine effects on all functional measures, sex differences were largely restricted to adult stress-related corticosterone and center-time responses. Although significant drug effects were detected at P28 and P90, there was no effect of nicotine at P38 on any measure examined. In saline-treated males, but not females, there were significant positive correlations across age between initial ambulatory counts and both initial vertical counts and total center time. Nicotine treatment increased correlations in both sexes, and yielded a significant negative interaction between initial ambulatory counts and plasma corticosterone. The unique responses of adolescents to nicotine are consistent with an immature function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors at this age.

    Research areas

  • Adolescence, Anxiety, Corticosterone, Locomotion, Sex differences, Stress

Citation formats


Cao, J., Belluzzi, J. D., Loughlin, S. E., Dao, J. M., Chen, Y. L., & Leslie, F. M. (2010). Locomotor and stress responses to nicotine differ in adolescent and adult rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 96(1), 82-90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.04.010


Cao, J, Belluzzi, JD, Loughlin, SE, Dao, JM, Chen, YL & Leslie, FM 2010, 'Locomotor and stress responses to nicotine differ in adolescent and adult rats', Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 96, no. 1, pp. 82-90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.04.010