We utilized a cohort of 828 treatment seeking self-identified white cigarette smokers (50% female) to rank candidate gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), a measure of nicotine dependence which assesses quantity of cigarettes smoked and time- and place-dependent characteristics of the respondent’s smoking behavior. 1123 SNPs at 55 autosomal candidate genes, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and genes involved in dopaminergic function, were tested for association to baseline FTND scores adjusted for age, depression, education, sex and study site. SNP P values were adjusted for the number of transmission models, the number of SNPs tested per candidate gene, and their intragenic correlation. DRD2, SLC6A3 and NR4A2 SNPs with adjusted P values < 0.10 were considered sufficiently noteworthy to justify further genetic, bioinformatic and literature analyses. Each independent signal among the top-ranked SNPs accounted for ~1% of the FTND variance in this sample. The DRD2 SNP appears to represent a novel association with nicotine dependence. The SLC6A3 SNPs have previously been shown to be associated with SLC6A3 transcription or dopamine transporter density in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo. Analysis of SLC6A3 and NR4A2 SNPs identified a statistically significant gene-gene interaction (P=0.001), consistent with in vitro evidence that the NR4A2 protein product (NURR1) regulates SLC6A3 transcription. A community cohort of N=175 multiplex ever smoking pedigrees (N=423 ever smokers) provided nominal evidence for association with the FTND at these top ranked SNPs, uncorrected for multiple comparisons.
dopamine transporter; Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence; single nucleotide polymorphism; candidate gene association scan; gene-gene interaction
Individuals with schizophrenia show increased smoking rates which may be due to a beneficial effect of nicotine on cognition and information processing. Decreased amplitude of the P50 and N100 auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) is observed in patients. Both measures show normalization following administration of nicotine. Recent studies identified an association between deficits in auditory evoked gamma oscillations and impaired information processing in schizophrenia, and there is evidence that nicotine normalizes gamma oscillations. Although the role of nicotine receptor subtypes in augmentation of ERPs has received some attention, less is known about how these receptor subtypes regulate the effect of nicotine on evoked gamma activity.
We examined the effects of nicotine, the α7 nicotine receptor antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA) the α4β4/α4β2 nicotine receptor antagonist dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHβE), and the α4β2 agonist AZD3480 on P20 and N40 amplitude as well as baseline and event-related gamma oscillations in mice, using electrodes in hippocampal CA3. Nicotine increased P20 amplitude, while DHβE blocked nicotine-induced enhancements in P20 amplitude. Conversely, MLA did not alter P20 amplitude either when presented alone or with nicotine. Administration of the α4β2 specific agonist AZD3480 did not alter any aspect of P20 response, suggesting that DHβE blocks the effects of nicotine through a non-α4β2 receptor specific mechanism. Nicotine and AZD3480 reduced N40 amplitude, which was blocked by both DHβE and MLA. Finally, nicotine significantly increased event-related gamma, as did AZD3480, while DHβE but not MLA blocked the effect of nicotine on event-related gamma.
These results support findings showing that nicotine-induced augmentation of P20 amplitude occurs via a DHβE sensitive mechanism, but suggests that this does not occur through activation of α4β2 receptors. Event-related gamma is strongly influenced by activation of α4β2, but not α7, receptor subtypes, while disruption of N40 amplitude requires the activation of multiple receptor subtypes.
Genome-wide association studies have linked single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster with heaviness of smoking. The nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR), a measure of the rate of nicotine metabolism, is associated with the number of cigarettes per day (CPD) and likelihood of cessation. We tested the potential interacting effects of these two risk factors on CPD.
Pretreatment data from three prior clinical trials were pooled for analysis. One thousand and thirty treatment seekers of European ancestry with genotype data for the CHRNA5/A3/B4 SNPs rs578776 and rs1051730 and complete data for NMR and CPD at pretreatment were included. Data for the third SNP, rs16969968, were available for 677 individuals. Linear regression models estimated the main and interacting effects of genotype and NMR on CPD.
We confirmed independent associations between the NMR and CPD as well as between the SNPs rs16969968 and rs1051730 and CPD. We did not detect a significant interaction between NMR and any of the SNPs examined.
This study demonstrates the additive and independent association of the NMR and SNPs in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster with smoking rate in treatment-seeking smokers.
The study examines the effectiveness of antismoking public service announcements (PSAs) among adult smokers as a function of smoking cues and the argument strength of the PSAs. Consistent with the previous cue-reactivity studies, smoking cues are defined as one of the following visual scenes: (a) objects associated with smoking, (b) holding or handling cigarettes, and (c) actual smoking behaviors. Argument strength indicates smoker's judgments of perceived strength and persuasiveness of the arguments extracted from the PSAs.
Data were collected through a web-based experiment of a random sample of general population of smokers (n = 566 adults aged 19 years or older). Each participant was shown 4 PSAs randomly selected from a set of 60. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling to assess the effects of smoking cues and argument strength. Effectiveness measures include perceived persuasiveness, transportation, valenced thought, negative emotion, and smoking-related thoughts.
Argument strength is a significant predictor of outcome variables. Although there were no significant main effects of smoking cues on any outcome variables, smoking cues were found to interact with argument strength such that the association between argument strength and outcome variables became weaker for PSAs in the smoking cue condition compared with those in the no-cue condition.
The interaction between smoking cues and argument strength suggests that smoking cues in antismoking PSAs undermine a significant part of what makes PSAs effective—their arguments against smoking. In designing antismoking messages, the inclusion of smoking cues should be weighed carefully.
Variability in smoking behavior is partly attributable to heritable individual differences in nicotine clearance rates. This can be assessed as the ratio of the metabolites cotinine (COT) and 3'-hydroxycotinine (3HC) (referred to as the nicotine metabolism ratio, NMR). We hypothesized that faster NMR would be associated with greater cigarette puff volume and higher levels of total NNAL, a carcinogen biomarker.
Current smokers (n=109) smoked one of their preferred brand cigarettes through a smoking topography device and provided specimens for NMR and total NNAL assays.
Faster nicotine metabolizers (third and fourth quartiles versus first quartile) based on the NMR exhibited significantly greater total puff volume and total NNAL; the total puff volume by daily cigarette consumption interaction was a significant predictor of total NNAL level.
A heritable biomarker of nicotine clearance predicts total cigarette puff volume and total NNAL.
If validated, the NMR could contribute to smoking risk assessment in epidemiological studies and potentially in clinical practice.
Despite effective therapies for smoking cessation, most smokers find quitting difficult and most successful quitters relapse. Considerable evidence supports a genetic risk for nicotine dependence; however, less is known about the pharmacogenetics of smoking cessation. In the first pharmacogenetic investigation of the efficacy of varenicline and bupropion, we examined whether genes important in the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of these drugs and nicotine predict medication efficacy and adverse events. Subjects participated in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled smoking cessation clinical trials, comparing varenicline, a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist, with bupropion, a norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor, and placebo. Primary analysis included 1175 smokers of European ancestry, and 785 single nucleotide polymorphisms from 24 genes, representing 254 linkage disequilibrium (LD) bins (genes included nAChR subunits, additional varenicline-specific genes, and genes involved in nicotine or bupropion metabolism). For varenicline, continuous abstinence (weeks 9–12) was associated with multiple nAChR subunit genes (including CHRNB2, CHRNA5, and CHRNA4) (OR=1.76; 95% CI: 1.23–2.52) (p<0.005); for bupropion, abstinence was associated with CYP2B6 (OR=1.78; 95% CI: 1.27–2.50) (p<0.001). Incidence of nausea was associated with several nAChR subunit genes (OR=0.50; 95% CI: 0.36–0.70) (p<0.0001) and time to relapse after quitting was associated with HTR3B (HR=1.97; 95% CI: 1.45–2.68) (p<0.0001). These data provide evidence for multiple genetic loci contributing to smoking cessation and therapeutic response. Different loci are associated with varenicline vs bupropion response, suggesting that additional research may identify clinically useful markers to guide treatment decisions.
varenicline; bupropion; pharmacogenetics; nicotine; nicotinic receptor; CYP2B6; pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics; addiction and substance abuse; clinical pharmacology/clinical trials; neuropharmacology; varenicline; bupropion; nicotine; smoking cessation; nicotinic receptors
Nicotine alters auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) in rodents and humans and is an effective treatment for smoking cessation. Less is known about the effects of the partial nicotine agonist varenicline on ERPs.
We measured the effects of varenicline and nicotine on the mouse P20 and varenicline and smoking on the human P50 in a paired-click task. Eighteen mice were tested following nicotine, varenicline, and their combination. One hundred and fourteen current smokers enrolled in a placebo-controlled within-subject crossover study to test the effects of varenicline during smoking and abstinence. Thirty-two subjects participated in the ERP study, with half receiving placebo first and half varenicline first (VP).
Nicotine and varenicline enhanced mouse P20 amplitude, while nicotine improved P20 habituation by selectively increasing the first-click response. Similar to mice, abstinence reduced P50 habituation relative to smoking by reducing the first-click response. There was no effect of varenicline on P50 amplitude during abstinence across subjects. However, there was a significant effect of medication order on P50 amplitude during abstinence. Subjects in the PV group displayed reduced P50 during abstinence, which was blocked by varenicline. However, subjects in the VP group did not display abstinence-induced P50 reduction.
Data suggest that smoking improves sensory processing. Varenicline mimics amplitude changes associated with nicotine and smoking but fails to alter habituation. The effect of medication order suggests a possible carryover effect from the previous arm. This study supports the predictive validity of ERPs in mice as a marker of drug effects in human studies.
Varenicline may aid smoking cessation by attenuating smoking behavior and reward. We compared the effects of varenicline versus placebo on smoking behavior and reward, assessed both prospectively and retrospectively, and related these effects to subsequent success in a brief simulated quit attempt with medication.
Materials and methods
Smokers (n=124) with high or low interest in quitting smoking participated in a double-blind crossover study of varenicline versus placebo effects on smoking behavior and reward. In each of two phases, subjects received a week of medication run-up with varenicline (0.5 mg, b.i.d.) or placebo while continuing to smoke, followed the next week by an attempt to quit while on medication. At the end of each run-up week, subjects completed retrospective measures of smoking reward (liking) and number of cigarettes over the prior 24 hrs, and they provided an expired air carbon monoxide (CO) measure. They then completed a prospective session in which they ad lib smoked and rated the rewarding effects of one of their preferred cigarettes while blind to brand.
Varenicline decreased smoking reward significantly in the prospective assessment, but only marginally in the retrospective assessment. Varenicline did not alter smoking behavior prospectively, but did reduce CO and retrospective report of smoking amount. None of these effects of varenicline predicted subsequent days of abstinence due to varenicline.
During medication run-up, varenicline decreases acute smoking reward and may attenuate smoking behavior, but these effects do not appear to directly predict varenicline’s influence on smoking abstinence in a short-term test.
Smoking; Varenicline; Reward; Smoking cessation; Nicotine dependence
The ability to quit smoking is heritable, yet few genetic studies have investigated prospective smoking cessation. We conducted a systems-based genetic association analysis in a sample of 472 treatment-seeking smokers of European ancestry after 8 weeks of transdermal nicotine therapy for smoking cessation. The genotyping panel included 169 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes and 4 genes in the endogenous cholinergic system. The primary outcome was smoking cessation (biochemically confirmed) at the end of treatment. SNPs clustered in the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) gene were individually identified as nominally significant, and a 5-SNP haplotype (block 6) in ChAT was found to be significantly associated with quitting success. Single SNPs in ChAT haplotype block 2 were also associated with pretreatment levels of nicotine dependence in this cohort. To replicate associations of SNPs in haplotype blocks 2 and 6 of ChAT with nicotine dependence in a non-treatment-seeking cohort, we used data from an independent community-based sample of 629 smokers representing 200 families of European ancestry. Significant SNP and haplotype associations were identified for multiple measures of nicotine dependence. Although the effect sizes in both cohorts are modest, converging data across cohorts and phenotypes suggest that ChAT may be involved in nicotine dependence and ability to quit smoking. Additional sequencing and characterization of ChAT may reveal functional variants that contribute to nicotine dependence and smoking cessation.
nicotine; smoking cessation; choline acetyltransferase ChAT; pharmacogenetics; addiction; Pharmacogenetics/Pharmacogenomics; Addiction & Substance Abuse; Clinical Pharmacology/Trials; Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Nicotine; Smoking Cessation; choline acetyltransferase ChAT
New approaches to improve smoking cessation rates are needed. In recent years, substantial progress has been made in understanding the genetics of smoking behavior, and this knowledge may eventually be used to personalize treatment for smokers. Although there are highly significant and reproducible genetic associations, none are yet ready for clinical applications. We suggest that translational research from several disciplines, including behavioral science, ethics and economics, should be performed in parallel with ongoing genome-wide association studies for smoking behavior and pharmacogenetic trials. The coordinated effort of multidisciplinary research teams will help reveal the circumstances under which we can translate genetic insights into clinical practice in the hope of reducing the burden of smoking in society.
A vaccine against nicotine may soon be available to smokers who want to quit. The vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that bind to nicotine, thereby impeding nicotine from crossing the blood-brain barrier and exerting psychoactive effects. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate intentions to try a nicotine vaccine if one were to become available among a nationally representative sample of smokers. The secondary purpose was to assess whether information about genetic susceptibility to nicotine addiction had an effect on smokers’ interest in receiving the vaccine.
Four hundred and twenty-seven adults were randomized to read one of two versions of a short description about the vaccine. One version framed addiction as genetically influenced, while the other framed it as environmentally influenced. Smokers were then asked about their intentions to use a nicotine vaccine if one were to become available in the future.
Across both groups, 53% indicated that they would be likely or very likely to try the vaccine. Using multivariate linear regression, the strongest predictors of vaccination intention were having a favorable attitude toward a nicotine vaccine (β = .41) and having a favorable attitude toward vaccination in general (β = .22). There were no significant effects of the framing conditions on intention to receive the vaccine.
Intentions to try a nicotine vaccine as a cessation method are relatively high among smokers. If the vaccine becomes available, specific groups of smokers may be more interested than others; education and recruitment efforts could be targeted appropriately.
As many as one-half of smokers relapse in the first week following a quit attempt, and subjective reports of cognitive deficits in early abstinence are associated with increased relapse risk. This study examined whether objective cognitive performance after three days of abstinence predicts smoking resumption in a 7-day simulated quit attempt. Sixty-seven treatment-seeking smokers received either varenicline or placebo (randomized double-blind) for 21 days. Following medication run-up (days 1-10), there was a 3-day mandatory (biochemically confirmed) abstinence period (days 11-13) during which working memory (Letter-N-Back Task) and sustained attention (Continuous Performance Task) were assessed (day 13). Participants were then exposed to a scheduled smoking lapse and instructed to try to remain abstinent for the next 7 days (days 15-21). Poorer cognitive performance (slower correct reaction time on Letter-N-Back task) during abstinence predicted more rapid smoking resumption among those receiving placebo (p=.038) but not among those receiving varenicline. These data lend further support for the growing recognition that cognitive deficits involving working memory are a core symptom of nicotine withdrawal and a potential target for the development of pharmacological and behavioral treatments.
nicotine; addiction; withdrawal; smoking relapse; cognition
The ability to quit smoking is heritable, yet few genetic studies have investigated prospective smoking cessation. We conducted a systems-based genetic association analysis in a sample of 472 treatment-seeking smokers of European ancestry following eight weeks of transdermal nicotine therapy for smoking cessation. The genotyping panel included 169 SNPs in 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes and 4 genes in the endogenous cholinergic system. The primary outcome was smoking cessation (biochemically confirmed) at the end of treatment. SNPs clustered in the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) gene were individually identified as nominally significant, and a 5-SNP haplotype (block 6) in ChAT was found to be significantly associated with quitting success. Single SNPs in ChAT haplotype block 2 were also associated with pre-treatment levels of nicotine dependence in this cohort. To replicate associations of SNPs in haplotype blocks 2 and 6 of ChAT with nicotine dependence in a non treatment-seeking cohort, we utilized data from an independent community-based sample of 629 smokers representing 200 families of European ancestry. Significant SNP and haplotype associations were identified for multiple measures of nicotine dependence. Although the effect sizes in both cohorts are modest, converging data across cohorts and phenotypes suggest that ChAT may be involved in nicotine dependence and ability to quit smoking. Additional sequencing and characterization of ChAT may reveal functional variants that contribute to nicotine dependence and smoking cessation.
nicotine; smoking cessation; choline acetyltransferase ChAT; pharmacogenetics; addiction
Genes coding for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may influence response to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation. We examined the association of a 3’ UTR polymorphism (rs2072661) in the nAChR β2 subunit (CHRNB2) gene with quitting success in response to nicotine vs. placebo patch during a short-term test of patch effects. In a within-subjects cross-over design, smokers of European descent (n = 156) received 21 mg nicotine and placebo patch, in counter-balanced order, during two separate 5-day simulated quit attempts, each preceded by a week of ad lib smoking. Abstinence was assessed daily by carbon monoxide (CO) < 5 ppm. Smokers with the CHRNB2 GG genotype had more days of abstinence during the nicotine versus placebo patch week, compared to those with the AG or AA genotypes (p<.01). Moreover, nicotine patch increased the probability of quitting on the target quit day, quitting anytime during the patch week, and avoiding relapse among those with the GG genotype but not the AA/AG genotypes, although the nicotine x genotype interaction was significant only for quitting on the target quit day (p<.05). Regardless of patch condition, quitting on the target quit day was more likely in those with the GG genotype vs. AA/AG genotypes (p<.05). Genetic associations were not observed for craving or withdrawal responses to nicotine versus placebo patch. These findings are consistent with prior evidence of association of this variant with smoking cessation and suggest that polymorphisms in the nAChR β2 subunit gene may influence therapeutic responsiveness to cessation medications.
CHRNB2; pharmacogenetics; nicotine replacement; smoking cessation
We investigated patterns of cigarette smoking and Swedish snus (oral smokeless tobacco) use in a population-based sample of 19,073 Swedish twins 20–47 years old who participated in the baseline assessment of a prospective study of tobacco use and cessation in 2005–2006. Age-adjusted prevalence odds ratios (POR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI ) describe the association between tobacco use and sex, after adjustment for non-independence of twin pairs. Kaplan-Meier survival methods produced cumulative incidence curves of age at initiation of tobacco use. Slightly more than half of the baseline population was female (55.2%); the mean age at interview was 33.3 (±7.2) years and did not differ by sex. Having ever smoked daily was less common among males than females (11.9% vs. 15.3%; POR=0.70 [0.64–0.77]), while having ever used snus daily was more common among males than females (31.1% vs. 4.8%; POR 11.7 [95% CI=10.6–13.1]). The median age at initiation of smoking was 15 years for both sexes; median age at onset of snus use was 15 years for males and 18 years for females. Nicotine dependence scores were higher for males than females, and for current than former smokers. Findings from this study are in contrast to our previously published report on tobacco use among 32,123 Swedish twins 42–64 years old who completed a similar survey, and reported lower rates of snus use at later ages. Patterns of tobacco use may be changing in Sweden; snus use appears to be increasing, while daily smoking appears to be decreasing in popularity among the younger Swedish twins.
Public service announcements (PSAs) are non-commercial broadcast ads that are an important part of televised public health campaigns. “Message sensation value” (MSV), a measure of sensory intensity of audio, visual, and content features of an ad, is an important factor in PSA impact. Some communication theories propose that higher message sensation value brings increased attention and cognitive processing, leading to higher ad impact. Others argue that the attention-intensive format could compete with ad's message for cognitive resources and result in reduced processing of PSA content and reduced overall effectiveness. Brain imaging during PSA viewing provides a quantitative surrogate measure of PSA impact and addresses questions of PSA evaluation and design not accessible with traditional subjective and epidemiological methods. We used Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and recognition memory measures to compare high and low MSV anti-tobacco PSAs and neutral videos. In a short-delay, forced-choice memory test, frames extracted from PSAs were recognized more accurately than frames extracted from the NV. Frames from the low MSV PSAs were better recognized than frames from the high MSV PSAs. The accuracy of recognition of PSA frames was positively correlated with the prefrontal and temporal, and negatively correlated with the occipital cortex activation. The low MSV PSAs were associated with greater prefrontal and temporal activation, than the high MSV PSAs. The high MSV PSAs produced greater activation primarily in the occipital cortex. These findings support the “dual processing” and “limited capacity” theories of communication that postulate a competition between ad's content and format for the viewers’ cognitive resources and suggest that the “attention-grabbing” high MSV format could impede the learning and retention of an ad. These findings demonstrate the potential of using neuroimaging in the design and evaluation of mass media public health communications.
Public service announcement; Advertising; fMRI; Tobacco; Message sensation value; Attention
Studies have found that smoking-related cues elicit smoking urges in addicted smokers. This work presents the first cue-reactivity study in the context of antismoking advertisements.
Using a two (no cue vs. smoking cue) by two (high vs. low argument strength) mixed design, we tested the hypothesis that smoking cues presented in antismoking advertisements elicit smoking urges. The study tested 96 adult smokers using both self-reported and psychophysiological measures of smoking urge. It also explored gender differences during the urge elicitation.
Smoking cues in antismoking advertisements elicited smoking urges in the weak argument condition.
Antismoking advertisements with smoking cues and weak antismoking arguments could produce boomerang effects on smokers through urge elicitation.
Antitobacco media campaigns using public service announcements (PSAs) have shown promise in reducing smoking initiation and increasing intentions to quit. Research on what makes an effective PSA has had mixed outcomes. The present study tested the effects of specific message features in antitobacco PSAs, using theory-based physiological and self-report outcomes.
PSAs were categorized as high or low in message sensation value (MSV) and strength of argument and presented to 200 current smokers in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Physiological responses—specifically, heart rate, skin conductance, zygomaticus major, and corrugator supercilii—were assessed while participants viewed the PSAs. Beliefs, attitudes, efficacy, norms, and intentions to quit were assessed immediately following viewing.
Corrugator activity was significantly greater in the high MSV condition. Among those low in sensation seeking, low MSV PSAs elicited higher self-efficacy, whereas the reverse was true for high sensation seekers. High MSV PSAs elicited higher negative beliefs in low sensation seekers. Adding physiological measures to a model predicting intention to quit did not improve the explained variance.
The present study represents the first comprehensive theory-based experimental investigation of the effects of different features of antitobacco PSAs and provides a framework for future research in identifying effective features of such PSAs. Results illustrate the importance of considering individual differences, characterizing both PSA content and format, and outcome and response measures when evaluating antitobacco PSAs.
Transdermal nicotine is widely used for smoking cessation, but only ~20% of smokers quit successfully with this medication. Interindividual variability in nicotine metabolism rate may influence treatment response. This study sought to validate, and extend in a larger sample, our previous finding that the ratio of plasma nicotine metabolites 3′-hydroxycotinine (3-HC)/cotinine, a measure of nicotine metabolism rate, predicts response to nicotine patch. A sample of 568 smokers was enrolled in a study that provided counseling and 8-weeks of 21mg nicotine patch. Pretreatment 3-HC/cotinine ratio was examined as a predictor of 7-day point prevalence abstinence, verified with breath carbon monoxide (CO), 8 weeks after the quit date. Controlling for sex, race, age, and nicotine dependence, smokers in the upper 3 quartiles of 3-HC/cotinine ratio (faster metabolizers) were ~50% less likely to be abstinent vs. smokers in the first quartile (slow metabolizers; 28% vs. 42%; OR=.54 [95% CI: .36–.82], p=.003). Among abstainers, plasma nicotine levels (assessed 1 week after treatment began) decreased linearly across the 3-HC/cotinine ratio (β = −3.38, t=−3.09, p<.05). These data support the value of the 3-HC/cotinine ratio as a biomarker to predict success with transdermal nicotine for smoking cessation.
nicotine; metabolism; tobacco; smoking; addiction
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are a key target in medication development efforts for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including nicotine dependence. Varenicline, a partial agonist at the α4β2 nAChRs, is a new efficacious medication for nicotine dependence. Its effects on the affective and cognitive dimensions of nicotine withdrawal have yet to be well characterized.
Sixty-seven treatment-seeking smokers were administered varenicline (× 21 days) and placebo (× 21 days) in a double-blind within-subject cross-over design. Following the medication run-up phase (days 1–10), there was a 3-day mandatory smoking abstinence phase (days 11–13) during which subjective symptoms and cognitive performance were assessed. Participants were re-exposed to a scheduled smoking lapse (day 14) and followed for days to lapse (days 15–21) in each medication period.
In the varenicline period, compared to placebo, withdrawal symptoms (p=.04), smoking urges (p<.001), and negative affect (p=.01) were significantly reduced, and levels of positive affect (p=.046), sustained attention (p=.018) and working memory (p=.001) were significantly greater during mandatory abstinence. Varenicline also significantly reduced the subjective rewarding effects of the scheduled smoking lapse (e.g., satisfaction, relief, liking) (p=.003). Medication effects on days to lapse following the scheduled smoking lapse were dependent on treatment order (p=.001); among participants who received placebo in the first period, varenicline increased days of abstinence in the follow-up period.
These data identify novel affective and cognitive effects of varenicline, and may have implications for medication development for other neuropsychiatric conditions.
nicotine; tobacco; dependence; varenicline; affect; cognition
Nitrosation of nicotine or its metabolites in the human body could lead to formation of the 2 carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines—N′-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK).
We investigated the possibility of endogenous formation of NNN in people who had stopped smoking and used the 21-mg nicotine patch for 6 months. We quantified urinary biomarkers of exposure to NNN—the sum of NNN and its pyridine-N-glucuronide, referred to as total NNN. Also measured were NNK metabolites—the sum of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) and its N- and O-glucuronides, referred to as total NNAL.
The average decline of urinary total NNN was less drastic than that of total NNAL: 22% of baseline total NNN and 7.3% of baseline total NNAL were detected in urine 24 weeks after smoking cessation and patch use (p = .02). The average ratio of total NNN to total NNAL in the same urine samples increased from 0.14 in baseline urine to 0.38 after 24 weeks of nicotine patch use.
Overall, these results demonstrate that endogenous formation of NNN may occur in nicotine patch users. However, the levels of urinary total NNN during patch use were generally extremely low. Moreover, in 10 of 20 subjects analyzed here, the rate of decline in total NNN was similar to that in total NNAL, indicating that endogenous formation of NNN is virtually nonexistent in these subjects. Supplementation with ascorbic acid could be a simple approach to block possible NNN formation in nicotine patch users.