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Nicotine Tob. Res..2020 Jul;22(8):1364-1373. 5836319. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntaa084.


Adolescent Cannabinoid and Nicotine Exposure Differentially Alters Adult Nicotine Self-Administration in Males and Females.

  • Angeline J Dukes
  • James P Fowler
  • Valeria Lallai
  • Anna N Pushkin
  • Christie D Fowler
PMID: 32396625 DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntaa084.




INTRODUCTION: During adolescence, exposure to nicotine or cannabis independently induces effects on neuromaturation and later cognitive function. However, the potential effect of both drugs under co-use conditions has become of increasing concern given the prevalence of e-cigarettes, legalization of cannabis, and availability of synthetic "spice" cannabinoid agonists.



AIMS AND METHODS: The current studies investigated the effects of exposure to a cannabinoid receptor agonist (WIN55,212-2) and/or nicotine over a discrete time period in mid-adolescence on later intravenous nicotine self-administration in adult male and female mice. We further examined whether cannabinoid agonist administration in adulthood would alter nicotine reinforcement, with either acute or chronic pairing across 7 days.



RESULTS: We found that adult males exhibited increased nicotine self-administration at a lower, rewarding nicotine dose following adolescent cannabinoid exposure, either alone or with nicotine coadministration. In contrast, adult females demonstrated an opposing effect in which adolescent cannabinoid and nicotine coexposure resulted in decreased nicotine intake compared with the nicotine only and control groups. Furthermore, after maintaining nicotine self-administration across sessions, pretreatment with a low dose of the cannabinoid agonist decreased nicotine intake in both male and female control mice, and this lowering effect was evidenced after both acute and chronic treatment. However, the cannabinoid agonist was ineffective in altering nicotine intake in mice previously exposed to nicotine, cannabinoid agonist, or both during adolescence.



CONCLUSIONS: These data provide evidence that adolescent drug exposure can alter later nicotine reinforcement in a sex-specific manner and can further modulate the effectiveness of interventions in reducing nicotine intake during adulthood.



IMPLICATIONS: These studies demonstrate a significant impact of nicotine, cannabinoids, or coexposure on developmental processes during adolescence. Differential effects were observed within each sex, with opposing results found for cannabinoid exposure on nicotine intake in males and females. Intriguingly, we also evidenced resistance to the lowering effects of a cannabinoid agonist on nicotine intake in adulthood based on adolescent drug exposure. Thus, these findings have important implications for our understanding of the impact of nicotine and cannabinoids (eg, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and synthetic "spice" cannabinoids) during development, with further implications for the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions based on prior drug exposure in youth.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.