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Effects of varenicline on sympatho-vagal balance and cue reactivity during smoking withdrawal: a randomised placebo-controlled trial

Haarmann, H; Gossler, A; Herrmann, P; Bonev, S; Xuan, PN; Hasenfuss, G; Andreas, S; (2016) Effects of varenicline on sympatho-vagal balance and cue reactivity during smoking withdrawal: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Tobacco Induced Diseases , 14 , Article 26. 10.1186/s12971-016-0091-x. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Varenicline is an effective smoking cessation medication. Some concern has been raised that its use may precipitate adverse cardiovascular events although no patho-physiological mechanism potentially underlying such an effect has been reported. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that varenicline impacts on sympatho-vagal balance during smoking withdrawal. METHODS: In this randomised, placebo-controlled trial, muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), heart rate, and blood pressure were assessed in 17 smokers four weeks before a quit attempt (baseline) and again on the third day of that quit attempt (acute smoking withdrawal). RESULTS: Regarding the primary endpoint of our study, we did not find a significant effect of varenicline compared to placebo on changes in MSNA burst incidence between baseline and acute smoking withdrawal (−3.0 ± 3.3 vs.−3.9 ± 5.0 bursts/100 heart beats; p = 0.308). However, heart rate and systolic blood pressure significantly decreased in the placebo group only, while no significant changes in these parameters were observed in the varenicline group. Exposure to smoking cues during acute withdrawal lead to a significant increase of heart rate in the placebo group, while heart rate decreased in the varenicline group, and the difference in these changes was significant between groups (+2.7 ± 1.0 vs.−1.8 ± 0.5 1/min; p = 0.002). In all 17 participants combined, a significant increase in heart rate during smoking cue exposure was detected in subjects who relapsed in the course of six weeks after the quit date compared to those who stayed abstinent (+2.5 ± 1.2 vs.−1.1 ± 0.7; p = 0.018). Six-week abstinence rates were higher in the varenicline group compared to placebo (88 vs. 22 % p = 0.015). CONCLUSION: We did not find evidence of adverse effects of varenicline on sympatho-vagal balance. Varenicline probably blunts the heart rate response to smoking cues, which may be linked to improved cessation outcome.

Type: Article
Title: Effects of varenicline on sympatho-vagal balance and cue reactivity during smoking withdrawal: a randomised placebo-controlled trial
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12971-016-0091-x
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1186/s12971-016-0091-x
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Substance Abuse, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health, Smoking cessation, Sympathetic activity, Baroreflex, Cue reactivity, HEART-RATE-VARIABILITY, CIGARETTE-SMOKING, NOREPINEPHRINE RELEASE, SYMPATHETIC ACTIVATION, NICOTINE DEPENDENCE, BLOOD-PRESSURE, CESSATION, SMOKERS, HYPERTENSION, METAANALYSIS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1514363
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