Effects of Caffeine on Alcohol Consumption and Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats

Authors


Reprint requests: Amir H. Rezvani, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Box 104790, Durham, NC 27710; Tel.: 919-668-1880; Fax: 919-681-3416; E-mail: azadi@duke.edu

Abstract

Background

Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are 3 of the most widespread self-administered psychoactive substances, which are known to be extensively co-administered. However, little is known about the degree to which they may mutually potentiate each other's consumption.

Methods

In the current set of studies, we examined in rats the effect of caffeine administration on alcohol drinking and intravenous (i.v.) self-administration of nicotine. In male alcohol-preferring (P) rats, caffeine (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg) or the saline vehicle was administered acutely either by subcutaneous (S.C.) injection or orally (PO) by gavage. In a chronic study, the effect of PO caffeine (5 and 20 mg/kg) on alcohol intake over a 10-day period was tested. In another experiment, the effect of acute PO administration of caffeine (20 mg/kg) or saline on saccharin intake (0.2% solution) was determined in P rats. Effects of 20 mg/kg caffeine on motor activity were also determined in P rats. Finally, the effects of acute PO caffeine administration on nicotine self-administration in Sprague–Dawley rats were also determined.

Results

Both routes of administration of caffeine, S.C. and PO, caused a significant dose-related decrease in alcohol intake and preference during free access to alcohol and after 4-day deprivation of alcohol. However, the low dose of 5 mg/kg caffeine increased alcohol intake. Acute PO caffeine also reduced saccharin intake. Acute systemic administration of 20 mg/kg caffeine did not exert a significant effect on motor activity. In Sprague–Dawley rats trained to self-administer i.v. nicotine, acute PO administration of caffeine significantly increased self-administration of nicotine in a dose-related manner.

Conclusions

These results suggest that adenosine receptor systems may play a role in both alcohol and nicotine intake and deserve further study regarding these addictions.

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