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High rates of comorbid tobacco and cannabis use in adolescents and young adults may be related to functional interactions between the nicotinic cholinergic and cannabinoid systems in the brain during development. This study examined the effects of chronic exposure to nicotine (the psychoactive component in tobacco) on acute exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the psychoactive component of cannabis). Male and female adolescent and adult Sprague-Dawley rats (N = 112) were injected daily with nicotine (1 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle for 14 days, followed by a 14-day drug-free period. On test day, rats were injected with THC (5 mg/kg, i.p.) or vehicle, locomotor activity was recorded for 2 h, and brains harvested for c-Fos immunoreactivity (IR). Locomotor activity and c-Fos IR changes induced by THC challenge were altered by nicotine pre-exposure and modified by age and sex. THC-induced suppression of locomotor activity was attenuated by nicotine pre-exposure in adult but not adolescent males. THC-induced suppression of locomotor activity was potentiated by nicotine pre-exposure in female adolescents, with no effects of THC or nicotine observed in female adults. THC increased c-Fos IR in the caudate, nucleus accumbens, stria terminalis, septum, amygdala, hypothalamus, and thalamus. Nicotine pre-exposure potentiated this effect in all regions. Several brain regions showed age and sex differences in c-Fos IR such that expression was greater in adults than adolescents and in females than males. Chronic nicotine pre-exposure produces lasting effects on cannabinoid-mediated signalling in the brain and on behaviour that are mediated by age and sex. NSERC. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


T Miladinovic, L A Manwell, E Raaphorst, S L Malecki, S A Rana, P E Mallet. Effects of chronic nicotine exposure on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced locomotor activity and neural activation in male and female adolescent and adult rats. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. 2020 Jul;194:172931

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PMID: 32353393

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