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Animal Models for Evaluating the Relative Abuse Liability of Electronic Cigarettes

Principal Investigator: Andrew Charles Harris

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health-Grant

ID number: 1R03DA042009-01

Award Date: 3/11/2016

Institution: Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation


The goal of this study is to develop a methodology for testing the relative abuse liability of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in adolescents and to determine whether non-nicotine constituents contribute to e-cigarette abuse liability in this population. Current animal models of tobacco abuse that only examine nicotine may not be sufficient because compounds other than nicotine may contribute to tobacco abuse and the interaction or sum of all compounds in a tobacco product may determine its actual abuse liability. Therefore, new animal models involving exposure to a mixture of nicotine and other constituents derived directly from e-cigarettes would be useful to more accurately assess e-cigarette abuse liability. The goal of this project is to compare the abuse-related effects of nicotine alone versus e-cigarette aerosol extracts (which include non-nicotine constituents such as minor alkaloids) in adolescent rats. Study aims are: (1) to compare the reinforcing effects of nicotine alone and extracts as measured by intravenous self-administration, and (2) to compare formulations in terms of their aversive effects as measured by conditioned taste aversion. The methodology established in these studies will more comprehensively assess e-cigarette abuse liability and may inform future human research studies as well as regulatory activities related to nicotine or other constituents in e-cigarettes.