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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of nicotine on homeostatic and hedonic components of food intake


Chronic tobacco use leads to nicotine addiction that is characterized by exaggerated urges to use the drug despite the accompanying negative health and socioeconomic burdens. Interestingly, nicotine users are found to be leaner than the general population. Review of the existing literature revealed that nicotine affects energy homeostasis and food consumption via altering the activity of neurons containing orexigenic and anorexigenic peptides in the brain. Hypothalamus is one of the critical brain areas that regulates energy balance via the action of these neuropeptides. The equilibrium between these two groups of peptides can be shifted by nicotine leading to decreased food intake and weight loss. The aim of this article is to review the existing literature on the effect of nicotine on food intake and energy homeostasis and report on the changes that nicotine brings about in the level of these peptides and their receptors that may explain changes in food intake and body weight induced by nicotine. Furthermore, we review the effect of nicotine on the hedonic aspect of food intake. Finally, we discuss the involvement of different subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the regulatory action of nicotine on food intake and energy homeostasis.

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