The Effect of Cotinine on Nicotine- and Cocaine-Induced Dopamine Release in the Nucleus Accumbens
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Cotinine is the major metabolite of nicotine. Nicotine is rapidly metabolized and has a short half-life, but cotinine is metabolized and eliminated at a much lower rate. Because of the resulting increase with time in the cotinine to nicotine ratio in the body, including in the brain, it is of interest to examine the effect of cotinine on nicotine-induced changes. In studies on consciou~, freely-moving rats, intravenous administration of either nicotine or cocaine induced the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, as assayed by microdialysis. Prior intravenous administration of a high dose of cotinine (SOO ltg/kg) inhibited this nicotine- or cocaine-induced dopamine release. The action of cotinine does not seem to occur through its effect on the metabolism of nicotine or on its binding at the receptor site, because cotinine, unlike nicotine. does not affect the binding of the nicotinic ligand cytisine. The findings sugge~t that cotinine affects a putative component of the reward mechanism, and as such could have therapeutic value.