Examination of empathy-like behaviour in nicotine-preferring rat lines

Demirel S., Tuzcu F., Uysal Harzadin N., KANDİŞ S., KIZILDAĞ S., Kanıt L.

International Journal of Neuroscience, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207454.2024.2312989
  • Journal Name: International Journal of Neuroscience
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: addiction, behaviour, Empathy, genetic, nicotine
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Aim: Addiction is an important global health issue, impacting also addicts environment and society. Empathy plays crucial role in establishing successful social relationships and is a fundamental component of social life. The aim of this study is to investigate how nicotine preferring (NP) strain and oral forced nicotine administration affects empathy-like behaviour in rats, with gender differences. Materials and Methods: Sprague-Dawley NP rats (10 males/10 females) and wild-type control rats (10 males/10 females) were used. Behavioural tests were administered to all rats before and after oral forced nicotine administration. The behavioural tests were completed in the fourth week of nicotine administration. Anxiety levels that could affect empathy-like behaviour were evaluated with open field, elevated plus maze tests and with blood cortisol levels. Oxytocin receptor and arginine vasopressin (AVP) levels, which have been shown to be related to empathy-like behaviour, were examined in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala regions using the enzyme-linked immunoassay method. Results: It was observed that males from the NP strain showed less empathy-like behaviour than all other groups, and nicotine administration did not cause a significant change in the results. Higher levels of locomotor activity (LA) were found in control females than in all other groups. Blood nicotine and corticosterone levels were higher in NP rats. No significant differences were found in AVP and oxytocin receptor levels in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Conclusions: It was found that coming from an addicted strain particularly reduces empathy-like behaviour in males.