Different brain areas linked to smoking and drinking

Academics at the University of Warwick have found that low functional connectivity of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex that is associated with the tendency to smoke is associated with increased impulsiveness — which may contribute to the tendency to smoke. The high connectivity of the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex in drinkers may increase the tendency to be attracted to the reward of alcohol consumption.

A new study by Professor Jianfeng Feng, Professor Edmund Rolls from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with Dr. Wei Cheng from Fudan University, China, examined the neural mechanisms underlying two key types of substance use behavior, smoking and drinking.

In 2000 participants they found that smokers had low functional connectivity in general, and especially in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with impulsive behavior. This suggests that people who smoke may do so to increase their overall brain connectivity with the stimulating effect of nicotine; and that being impulsive may be a factor leading to smoking.

Full story at Science Daily

Engineered enzyme eliminates nicotine addiction in preclinical tests

Scientists at Scripps Research have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

In a study published online in Science Advances on Oct. 17, 2018, the scientists gave nicotine-dependent rats an engineered enzyme that breaks down nicotine in the bloodstream before it can reach the brain. Treatment quickly reduced the animals’ motivation to take nicotine, reversed their signs of nicotine dependence, and kept them from relapsing when they were given access to nicotine again.

“This is a very exciting approach because it can reduce nicotine dependence without inducing cravings and other severe withdrawal symptoms, and it works in the bloodstream, not the brain, so its side effects should be minimal,” says principal investigator Olivier George, PhD, associate professor at Scripps Research.

Full story at Science Daily

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers’ hearts

A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study subjects used an a nicotine-free or empty e-cig.

The findings are published in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Unlike cigarettes, e-cigs have no combustion or tobacco. Instead, these electronic, handheld devices deliver nicotine with flavoring and other chemicals in a vapor instead of smoke.

Full story at Science Daily

Smokers in clinical studies who say they’ve quit often haven’t

A new US study published by the scientific journal Addiction has found that a high proportion of smokers enrolled in stop-smoking programs during a hospital stay report having quit when in fact they have not. The findings mean that in these kinds of study it is vital to check claims of having quit using an objective measure.

This nationwide study followed five large smoking cessation clinical trials in the US that enrolled smokers at hospitalization. At 6-month follow-up, 822 participants (out of 4,206 who completed the follow-up survey) reported they had not smoked in the past 7 days and provided a usable saliva sample for verification by testing for a chemical called ‘cotinine’. The liver converts nicotine in the body to cotinine and so this chemical is a very accurate measure of whether someone has smoked in the past few days. More than 40% of those 822 self-reported quitters failed the saliva test.

Full story at Science Daily

One in four teen e-cigarette users have tried ‘dripping’

Yale researchers found in a study that one in four high schoolers who use electronic cigarettes are inhaling vapors produced by dripping e-liquids directly onto heating coils, instead of inhaling from the e-cigarette mouthpiece, possibly increasing exposure to toxins and nicotine.

This form of e-cigarette use, known as “dripping,” is gaining in popularity among youth, who report it produces thicker clouds of vapor, a stronger hit in the back of the throat when inhaled, and a more pleasurable taste, according to the study, published online Feb. 6 in the journal Pediatrics.

Applying the liquid directly to the battery-powered coil heats it at a higher temperature than inhaling from a cartridge or tank, possibly increasing exposure to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein in the vapors, according to other existing research.

Full story of teen e-cigarettes and dripping at Science Daily