Planarians on nicotine

Some of the work that I do on my own research is about the behavioral pharmacology of abused drugs.  I have talked about it here and here.  Nicotine is without a doubt one of the most abused drugs ever, and it does indeed affect planarians.

Here is a short video showing the response of a planarian to nicotine compared to another planarian placidly gliding underwater.

Here’s a question for my loyal followers, would you like to know more about planarian research and on planarian pharmacology in particular?

If you want to know more

Rawls SM et al. (2011) Nicotine Behavioral Pharmacology: clues from planarians.  Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Nov 1;118(2-3):274-9.

Pagán OR et al. (2009) A cembranoid from tobacco prevents the expression of nicotine-induced withdrawal behavior in planarian worms.  Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Aug 1;615(1-3):118-24


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  1. Heh, why not make eeetsy beestsy cigarettes and see if “oral fixation” enhances the rate of addiction…planarians do have mouths, after all….


  2. Do planarians provide any insights into curing addiction? ie, is cold turkey more effective than gradual weaning? I know people that struggle to quit smoking only to become addicted to nicotine gum and end up taking higher doses than they ever got when smoking, which to my mind makes a return to smoking more likely, not less.


    1. That is the big question, Peter. As interesting as it is, it is very difficult to extrapolate behaviors from worms to humans. Addiction, after all has a very strong psychological component. What we are hoping right now is to try to get a better idea of the physiological mechanisms for addiction in general using the worms. Time will tell…


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