Cannabinoid receptor stimulation increases motivation for nicotine and nicotine seeking.Addict Biol. 2012 Jan; 17(1):47-61.AB
The cannabinoid system appears to play a critical facilitative role in mediating the reinforcing effects of nicotine and relapse to nicotine-seeking behaviour in abstinent subjects based on the actions of cannabinoid (CB) receptor antagonists. However, the effects of CB receptor stimulation on nicotine self-administration and reinstatement have not been systematically studied. Here, we studied the effects of WIN 55,212-2, a CB1/2 agonist, on intravenous nicotine self-administration under fixed-ratio (FR) and progressive-ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement in rats. The effects of WIN 55,212-2 on responding for food under similar schedules were also studied. In addition, the effects of WIN 55,212-2 on nicotine- and cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking were also studied, as well as the effects of WIN 55,212-2 on nicotine discrimination. WIN 55,212-2 decreased nicotine self-administration under the FR schedule. However, co-administration of WIN 55,212-2 with nicotine decreased responding for food, which suggests that this effect was non-selective. In contrast, WIN 55,212-2 increased both nicotine self-administration and responding for food under the PR schedule, produced dose-dependent reinstatement of nicotine seeking, and enhanced the reinstatement effects of nicotine-associated cues. Some of these effects were reversed by the CB1 antagonist rimonabant, but not by the CB2 antagonist AM630. In the drug discrimination tests between saline and 0.4 mg/kg nicotine, WIN 55,212-2 produced no nicotine-like discriminative effects but significantly potentiated discriminative stimulus effects of nicotine at the low dose through a CB1-receptor-dependent mechanism. These findings indicate that cannabinoid CB1-receptor stimulation increases the reinforcing effects of nicotine and precipitates relapse to nicotine-seeking behaviour in abstinent subjects. Thus, modulating CB1-receptor signalling might have therapeutic value for treating nicotine dependence.