Nicotine Effects on Human Affective Functions. A Systematic Review of the Literature on a Controversial Issue

ISSN: 1996-3181 (Online)
ISSN: 1871-5273 (Print)

Volume 13, 10 Issues, 2014

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CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets

Formerly: Current Drug Targets - CNS & Neurological Disorders

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Stephen D. Skaper
Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
University of Padova

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Nicotine Effects on Human Affective Functions. A Systematic Review of the Literature on a Controversial Issue

Author(s): F Cosci, E JL Griez, A E Nardi and K RJ Schruers

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Florence, via di San Salvi, 12, 50135 Florence, Italy


The observation that nicotine modulates negative affectivity and have a mood enhancing effect mainly derives from studies conducted in general/clinical nicotine deprived populations and have been explained by the so called deprivation-reversal hypothesis (i.e., nicotine modulates affect because it alleviates withdrawal symptoms). However, experimental studies suggest that nicotine might modulate different affective functions (e.g., aggressiveness, anxiety) and exert a direct modulating effect on human affectivity. The present paper is a systematic review of the literature aiming at verifying this second hypothesis. A computerized search was carried out (PubMed/Medline 1960-2012). Inclusion criteria were: 1. English language papers published in peer reviewed journals; 2. experimental/quasi experimental design studies; 3. no deprived adults; 4. inclusion of a control condition; 5. no additional Axis I or II psychiatric disorders. Twenty-one papers met our inclusion criteria. Nicotine showed to alleviate depression both in smokers and in non-smokers, especially if vulnerable to depression or depressed, and this effect seemed related to the activation of the dopaminergic brain rewarding system. No clear effects on anxiety were found. Nicotine, thus, seems to exert a direct modulating effect on human mood. Possible limitations of the reviewed studies and future research directions are proposed

Keywords: Affective functions, anxiety, mood, nicotine, smoking, systematic review

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Article Details

Volume: 13
First Page: 1
Last Page: 11
Page Count: 11
DOI: 10.2174/1871527313666140612105254

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