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Led by Prof. Jibran Khokhar, University of Guelph researchers conducted the behavioral test (conditioned place preference, CPP) using adolescent and adult animals, to assess developmental differences in the rewarding effects of nicotine vapour.
“This is the first study to show that rodents find e-cigarette vapour rewarding in a conditioned place preference experiment,” said Khokhar, referring to animals’ preference for a chamber in which experimenters previously exposed them to a drug. “It also shows that adolescents find the nicotine vapour more rewarding compared to adults, and do so even at shorter exposures, which are not rewarding for the adults.”
Khokhar added that the fact that it takes a limited exposure for teens’ brains to react, may explain why continued use is more likely to occour in people who are exposed to nicotine at a younger age. “The adolescent brain may be especially vulnerable to the rewarding effects of nicotine vapour,” Khokhar said. “The shorter exposures may also suggest that it might take very limited exposure to the vapour for adolescents to experience the rewarding effects, and this may contribute to their continued use.”
The findings of the current study go in line with a growing body of literature indicating that adolescent exposure to nicotine increases the risk of cigarette smoking in future.
“The findings from our study will help uncover the mechanisms underlying the vulnerability of the adolescent brain to the rewarding effects of e-cigarette vapour as well as the long-term consequences of adolescent vapour exposure,” said Khokhar.
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