Original Investigations

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 305-308

First online:

Nicotine from cigarette smoking increases circulating levels of cortisol, growth hormone, and prolactin in male chronic smokers

  • J. N. WilkinsAffiliated withClinical Pyschopharmacology Unit, VAMedical CenterDepartment of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine
  • , H. E. CarlsonAffiliated withVeterans Administration Medical CenterDepartment of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine
  • , H. Van VunakisAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Brandeis University
  • , M. A. HillAffiliated withClinical Pyschopharmacology Unit, VAMedical CenterDepartment of Biomathematics, UCLA School of Medicine
  • , E. GritzAffiliated withClinical Pyschopharmacology Unit, VAMedical CenterDepartment of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine
  • , M. E. JarvikAffiliated withClinical Pyschopharmacology Unit, VAMedical CenterDepartment of Psychiatry, UCLA School of MedicineDepartment of Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine

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Abstract

Results of this study indicate that nicotine from cigarette smoking increases circulating levels of cortisol, growth hormone, and prolactin in male chronic smokers. Previous studies have not addressed the question of whether the stimulus for smoking-related hormone release is the ‘stress’ of smoking or a pharmacologic action of nicotine and other tobacco substrates. Nicotine exposure is controlled in this study by allowing each subject to smoke only two 2.0 mg nicotine cigarettes during one experimental session and two 0.2 mg nicotine cigarettes in another session. Plasma levels of cortisol, growth hormone, and prolactin for the higher nicotine session were found to be significantly elevated over those for the low-nicotine session, indicating that nicotine itself plays a predominate role in smoking-induced hormone increases. All hormone levels for the 2.0 mg nicotine session had not returned to baseline 60 min after smoking.

Key words

Nicotine Cigarette smoking Cortisol Growth homone Prolactin Heart rate