Cigarette smoke inhalation stimulates dopaminergic neurons in rats

Mauro Fà, Giampaolo Carcangiu, Nicola Passino, Veronica Ghiglieri, Gian Luigi Gessa, Giampaolo Mereu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In humans, nicotine is self administered by inhalation of tobacco smoke as opposed to animal models, where nicotine is administered via systemic injection. The aim of the present study was to clarify whether tobacco smoke inhalation would affect dopaminergic projections differently from the reported activation after the systemic administration of nicotine. For this purpose, tobacco smoke from cigarettes containing 1.0 or 0.1 mg nicotine was delivered by inhalation to rats, while recording from antidromically identified nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopamine neurons. Smoke inhalation from 1.0 mg nicotine cigarettes caused a peculiar abrupt increase of discharge activity of mesolimbic dopamine neurons, while nigrostriatal cells were less responsive. This activation was promptly antagonized by mecamylamine (2.0mg/kg, i.v.). In contrast, smoke delivered from 0.1 mg nicotine cigarettes was ineffective. These findings suggest that the boosting activation of mesolimbic dopamine neurons by inhaled nicotine might be relevant for the rewarding properties of tobacco smoking and also for the effectiveness of new treatments to stop smoking. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3637-3639
Number of pages3
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Nov 9 2000


  • Dopamine
  • Electrophysiology
  • Nicotine
  • Reward
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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