The effects of chronic nicotine on meal patterns, food intake, metabolism and body weight of male rats

L. L. Bellinger, P. J. Wellman, R. B.S. Harris, E. W. Kelso, P. R. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


It is unclear what contribution food intake and metabolism have in causing weight loss after administering a dose of nicotine equivalent to smoking one to three packs of cigarettes per day because previous studies have been of a very short duration. To address this question, male Sprague Dawley rats were housed in computerized food intake modules and fed 45mg pellets: Group 1 [nicotine injected with 1.4mg/kg/day (free base), fed ad libitum]; and Group 2 [saline injected and pair-fed by computer with Group 2]; and Group 3 [saline injected (i.p.), fed ad libitum]. The rats received 4 equally spaced injections over the dark phase. Treatment consisted of: Phase 1 (nicotine or saline for 14days), Phase 2 (all rats saline for 8days and Phase 3 (pair-fed group "unyoked" for 6days)). Nicotine inhibited food intake over the first 6days. On termination of nicotine, there was no compensatory hyperphagia in either Groups 1 or 2; and their body weight was reduced starting on day 5 until day 28. In another study, rats were housed in an indirect calorimetry system. Saline or nicotine was injected for 14days, as noted above; then all rats were injected with saline for 4days and then no injections for 10days to follow changes in body weight. Energy expenditure (Kcal/Kg0.75) was measured for 18days. Nicotine significantly reduced food intake on 7 of 14days of nicotine injections. The body weight of the nicotine injected rats was significantly reduced starting on day 3 until day 25. There were no differences in energy expenditures of the groups, which suggested that a decrease in food intake and not an increase in metabolism was the reason the rats lost weight after administering nicotine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Pair-fed
  • Respiratory quotient
  • Smoking
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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