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Disrupting Nicotine Reinforcement

From Cigarette to Brain


Address for correspondence: Jed E. Rose, Ph.D., Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research, 2424 Erwin Road, Suite 201, Durham, NC 27705. Voice: +919-668-5055; fax: +919-668-5088.


Cigarette smoking is a tenacious addiction that is maintained to a significant extent by the reinforcing effects of nicotine. An emerging theme in smoking cessation treatment is the development of methods for interfering with these reinforcing effects. By attenuating nicotine reinforcement, treatments may enhance a smoker's chances of successfully remaining abstinent. Several treatment approaches will be described, including the use of denicotinized cigarettes, nicotine vaccines, nicotinic receptor agonists and antagonists, and modulators of brain reinforcement processes. These techniques highlight the numerous sites along the path between the cigarette and the brain that can be targeted for intervention. In addition to unimodal therapies, treatment combinations will be discussed that might more effectively block cigarette reward and thereby further enhance smoking abstinence.