Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33660663
Link to DOI – 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000607
Behav Pharmacol 2021 04; 32(2&3): 212-219
Relapse is common amongst smokers attempting to quit and tobacco cue-induced craving is an important relapse mechanism. Preclinical studies commonly use cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking to investigate relapse neurobiology. Previous research suggests dependence severity and nicotine intake history affect smoking resumption and cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking. However, behavioural data may be interpreted in terms of nicotine reinforcement. This translational study investigated if individual differences in objectively assessed nicotine reinforcement strength were associated with cue-reactivity in both rats and human smokers, which to our knowledge has not been investigated before. Rats (n = 16) were trained to self-administer nicotine and were tested on a progressive ratio schedule of nicotine reinforcement, to assess reinforcer strength, and on a test of cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking. Nicotine reinforcement strength was assessed in human smokers (n = 104) using a forced choice task (nicotine containing vs. denicotinised cigarettes) and self-reported cue-induced craving was assessed following exposure to smoking and neutral cues. Responding for nicotine under progressive ratio was strongly positively correlated with cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking in rats. Nicotine choices in human smokers were significantly associated with cue-induced craving controlling for dependence severity, years of smoking, and urge to smoke following neutral cues. Findings suggest nicotine reinforcement strength is associated with both types of cue-induced behaviour, implying some translational commonality between cue-induced craving in human smokers and cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking in rats. Findings are discussed in relation to clinical implications and whether these laboratory tasks assess drug ‘wanting’.