Cigarette smoking and brain regulation of energy homeostasis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2012, 3 JUL
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Cigarette smoking is an addictive behavior, and is the primary cause of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, and cancer (among other diseases). Cigarette smoke contains thousands of components that may affect caloric intake and energy expenditure, although nicotine is the major addictive substance present, and has the best described actions. Nicotine exposure from cigarette smoke can change brain feeding regulation to reduce appetite via both energy homeostatic and reward mechanisms, causing a negative energy state which is characterized by reduced energy intake and increased energy expenditure that are linked to low body weight. These findings have led to the public perception that smoking is associated with weight loss. However, its effects at reducing abdominal fat mass (a predisposing factor for glucose intolerance and insulin resistance) are marginal, and its promotion of lean body mass loss in animal studies suggests a limited potential for treatment in obesity. Smoking during pregnancy puts pressure on the mother's metabolic system and is a significant contributor to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Smoking is a predictor of future risk for respiratory dysfunction, social behavioral problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. Catchup growth is normally observed in children exposed to intrauterine smoke, which has been linked to subsequent childhood obesity. Nicotine can have a profound impact on the developing fetal brain, via its ability to rapidly and fully pass the placenta. In animal studies this has been linked with abnormal hypothalamic gene expression of appetite regulators such as downregulation of NPY and POMC in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. Maternal smoking or nicotine replacement leads to unhealthy eating habits (such as junk food addiction) and other behavioral disorders in the offspring. © 2012 Chen, Saad, Sandow and Bertrand.
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