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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impact of Sex on Changes in Plasma Corticosterone and Cotinine Levels Induced by Nicotine in C57BL/6J Mice


We assessed if there were any sex-related differences in the ability of nicotine to increase plasma corticosterone secretion after single or repeated nicotine administration. For single-dose studies, male and female mice were habituated to the test room for 1 h and injected with saline or nicotine (0.25 or 1 mg/kg, subcutaneously (s.c.)). In repeated-dosing studies, mice were injected with saline or nicotine (1 mg/kg, s.c.) once daily for six days, and, on day 7, received nicotine (1 mg/kg, s.c.). Mice were then euthanized 15 min later, and trunk blood was collected for the measurement of corticosterone, nicotine, and cotinine. Our results showed that saline or nicotine each significantly increased plasma corticosterone levels in both males and females, with a greater response in female mice. Plasma corticosterone levels were increased in male but not female mice after being treated repeatedly compared to single nicotine administration. The level of cotinine, a biomarker of nicotine use, was significantly higher in female than in male mice. Taken together, these novel findings suggest that female mice respond to nicotine and the stress of handling more than male mice and provide for the first-time quantitative data on male-female differences in nicotine-induced elevations of corticosterone and cotinine plasma levels.

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