Meal patterns in female rats during and after intermittent nicotine administration. Academic Article uri icon


  • Previously we observed in male rats that intermittent administration of nicotine (NIC) during the dark phase reduces food intake (FI) by initially decreasing only dark phase meal size. This was followed several days later by an increase in dark phase meal frequency such that FI returned to normal, while body weight remained suppressed. Termination of NIC treatment resulted in a modest dark phase hyperphagia. Since some human females use NIC as a weight control drug, the present study investigated changes in FI and body weight regulation in adult female rats treated for five estrous cycles with saline or a 1.40 mg/kg/day (free base) dose of NIC, which was given in four equal i.p. doses during the dark phase. The rats were followed for 15 days after cessation of NIC. Initially both dark and light phase FI were reduced and this was caused by an immediate decrease in dark and light phase meal size; the attenuation of meal size continued after cessation of NIC. On day 7 of NIC, the rats compensated by significantly increasing the number of dark, but not light, phase meals they took. This resulted in a normal 24-h FI, which was caused by a dark phase increase in FI coupled with a continued decrease in light phase FI. Importantly, these changes in meal patterns persisted for some time after termination of NIC. Upon NIC cessation, the NIC group showed no hyperphagia even though their body weight was significantly decreased. These results document that administration of NIC during the dark phase resulted in a reorganization of the microstructure of FI in females rats that resembles, but does not exactly duplicate, that observed in male rats. Like males, long lasting alterations in the microstructure of FI (e.g., meal size and meal number), were noted in female rats for up to 2 weeks after cessation of NIC. These results differ from studies in which NIC was given continuously 24-h per day and indicate that dark phase NIC administration in rats may represent an appropriate model to study the impact of NIC on meal patterns.

published proceedings

  • Pharmacol Biochem Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Bellinger, L. L., Wellman, P. J., Cepeda-Benito, A., Kramer, P. R., Guan, G., Tillberg, C. M., Gillaspie, P. R., & Hill, E. G.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Bellinger, Larry L||Wellman, Paul J||Cepeda-Benito, Antonio||Kramer, Phillip R||Guan, Guoqiang||Tillberg, Connie M||Gillaspie, Priscilla R||Hill, E Gerald

publication date

  • January 2005