Mecamylamine increases nicotine preference and attenuates nicotine discrimination

J. E. Rose, A. Sampson, E. D. Levin, J. E. Henningfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Eight subjects evaluated various qualities of cigarette after being given a range of doses (0, 2.5, 10 and 20 mg) of the nicotinic receptor blocker mecamylamine. In one test condition, subjects were given either high or low nicotine tobacco smoke to determine the effects of mecamylamine on their subjective responses. In another test condition, subjects were allowed to adjust the nicotine dose level of the smoke to determine the effects of mecamylamine on dose preference. When the subjects evaluated puffs of smoke with high and low nicotine content, mecamylamine caused a dose-related decrease in the self-rated strength and harshness of the high nicotine dose level smoke. In contrast, there was little effect on the low dose smoke. At the highest mecamylamine dose (20 mg) there was no significant difference in the ratings of high and low nicotine cigarettes. Low doses of mecamylamine decreased the reported desire for a cigarette, and also attenuated the reduction in desire for a cigarette caused by smoking. When the subjects were allowed to select their preferred level of nicotine intake using a smoke mixing device, the 10 and 20 mg doses of mecamylamine caused a significant increase in self-administered nicotine dose level. Despite this compensatory increase in nicotine self-administration, the reduction in desire for a cigarette after smoking was still less than after placebo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Antagonist
  • Mecamylamine
  • Nicotine
  • Preference
  • Reinforcement
  • Satisfaction
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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