Atomoxetine reverses nicotine withdrawal-associated deficits in contextual fear conditioning

Jennifer A. Davis, Thomas J. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that the cognitive symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and the cognitive symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may share neural correlates. Thus, therapeutics that ameliorate ADHD symptoms may also ameliorate nicotine-withdrawal symptoms. The present research tested this hypothesis in an animal model of nicotine withdrawal-associated cognitive deficits using atomoxetine, a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that is approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of ADHD. C57BL/6 mice were prepared with osmotic minipumps that administered 6.3 mg/kg/day of nicotine or saline, and the minipumps were removed after 12 days of continuous treatment. Twenty-four hours later, mice were trained in delay fear conditioning using two paired presentations of an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS) with a footshock unconditioned stimulus. Testing for freezing in response to the training context and for freezing in response to the CS occurred the next day. Nicotine-withdrawn mice and their saline-treated counterparts received either saline or atomoxetine before training and the context test. Consistent with previous research, the results indicate that mice withdrawn from chronic nicotine demonstrated lower levels of contextual fear conditioning than mice that were not withdrawn from chronic nicotine. Atomoxetine dose-dependently reversed the deficit, suggesting that nicotine withdrawal may be associated with changes in noradrenergic function, acetycholinergic function, and/or with changes in cell signaling cascades that are activated by both nicotine and norepinephrine. These data suggest that atomoxetine may be efficacious for treating nicotine withdrawal-associated cognitive deficits that promote relapse in abstinent smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2019
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Atomoxetine reverses nicotine withdrawal-associated deficits in contextual fear conditioning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this