Nicotine-induced plasma corticosterone is attenuated by social interactions in male and female adolescent rats

N. S. Pentkowski, M. R. Painter, K. J. Thiel, N. A. Peartree, T. H C Cheung, Pierre Deviche, M. Adams, J. Alba, Janet Neisewander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Most smokers begin smoking during adolescence, a period during which social reward is highly influential. Initial exposure to nicotine can produce anxiogenic effects that may be influenced by social context. This study examined play behavior and plasma corticosterone following nicotine administration (0.6 mg/kg, s.c.) in both male and female adolescent (PND39) Sprague-Dawley rats in either isolate or social contexts. In blood samples collected immediately following the 15-min test session, nicotine increased plasma corticosterone relative to saline in both male and female isolate rats, but failed to do so in both males and females placed together in same-sex pairs. Nicotine also attenuated several indices of play behavior including nape attacks, pins and social contact. In isolate rats, nicotine selectively increased locomotor activity in females; however, when administered to social pairs, nicotine decreased locomotion in both sexes. These findings suggest that the presence of a social partner may decrease the initial negative, stress-activating effects of nicotine, perhaps leading to increased nicotine reward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Corticosterone
  • Nicotine
  • Play behavior
  • Sex differences
  • Sociality
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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