News Release

New study evaluates nicotine's relationship to body weight and food intake

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Oxford University Press USA

New York, NY - May 18, 2016 - A study published today in Nicotine & Tobacco Research demonstrates in a carefully controlled series of studies that the self-administration of nicotine by rats suppresses body weight gain independent of food intake.

The authors of the study investigated the impact of reducing nicotine doses on body weight, and results revealed that reduction of nicotine dose from a large self-administered dose to very low doses resulted in substantial weight gain. In rats self-administering a maximally-reinforcing dose of nicotine, body weight gain during the 20-day study period was attenuated by ~40% despite no change in food intake.

As lead author Laura Rupprecht said, "The findings are important in the context of potential product standards requiring very low nicotine levels in cigarettes, as they indicate that low nicotine levels may still reduce body weight, possibly motivating continued use and maintaining exposure to harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke."

The results of the four experiments in the study also indicate that the weight-suppression properties of nicotine may act through processes that are separate from those that contribute to nicotine addiction. A better understanding of the separate neurobiological mechanisms responsible for nicotine addiction and body weight regulation may allow for new avenues in the development of obesity pharmacotherapies.


The paper "Self-administered nicotine suppresses body weight gain independent of food intake in male rats" is available at:

Correspondence should be directed to:
Alan F. Sved, Ph. D.
Department of Neuroscience
University of Pittsburgh
A210A Langley Hall
Fifth & Ruskin Avenues
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Telephone: (412) 624-6996

Dr. Sved is currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neuroscience and co-director of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Sved's research focuses on two distinct areas, the neuropsychopharmacology of nicotine and the central neural control of autonomic function, particularly the cardiovascular system.

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