Nicotine-induced conditional place preference is affected by head injury: Correlation with dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens shell

Yuan Hao Chen, Tung Tai Kuo, Eagle Yi Kung Huang, Barry J. Hoffer, Jen Hsin Kao, Yu Ching Chou, Yung Hsiao Chiang, Jonathan Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background Traumatic brain injury is known to impact dopamine-mediated reward pathways, but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully established. Methods Nicotine-induced conditional place preference was used to study rats exposed to a 6-psi fluid percussion injury with and without prior exposure to nicotine. Preference was quantified as a score defined as (C1 - C2) / (C1 + C2), where C1 is time in the nicotine-paired compartment and C2 is time in the saline-paired compartment. Subsequent fast-scan cyclic voltammetry was used to analyze the impact of nicotine infusion on dopamine release in the shell portion of the nucleus accumbens. To further determine the influence of brain injury on nicotine withdrawal, nicotine infusion was administered to the rats after fluid percussion injury. The effects of fluid percussion injury on conditional place preference after prior exposure to nicotine and abstinence or withdrawal from nicotine were also assessed. Results After traumatic brain injury, dopamine release was reduced in the nucleus accumbens shell, and nicotine-induced conditional place preference preference was significantly impaired. Preference scores of control, sham-injured, and fluid percussion injury groups were 0.1627±0.04204, 0.1515±0.03806, and -0.001300±0.04286, respectively. Nicotine-induced conditional place preference was also seen in animals after nicotine pretreatment, with a conditional place preference score of 0.07805±0.02838. Nicotine preexposure substantially increased tonic dopamine release in sham-injured animals, but it did not change phasic release; nicotine exposure after fluid percussion injury enhanced phasic release, though not to the same levels seen in sham-injured rats. Conditioned preference was related not only to phasic dopamine release (r=0.8110) but also to the difference between tonic and phasic dopamine levels (r=0.9521). Conclusions Traumatic brain injury suppresses dopamine release from the shell portion of the nucleus accumbens, which in turn significantly alters reward-seeking behavior. These results have important implications for tobacco and drug use after traumatic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-961
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • conditional place preference
  • dopamine
  • nicotine
  • nucleus accumbens
  • TBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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