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Cholesterol meds to help smokers kick the habit
Fibrate medications, currently used to treat high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, may also help cigarette smokers quit, according to an animal study published this week in Neuropsychopharmacology. Since smoking is highly addictive and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, normalizing lipids and reducing smoking could be a dual benefit of fibrate treatment. The fact that fibrates are already approved for human use should speed up clinical trials and the subsequent implementation of any treatment based on this work.
Tobacco-related disease is one of the major causes of premature death in the United States. Although smoking cessation treatments are available, they are not effective in many smokers. Steven Goldberg and colleagues are investigating the use of fibrate drugs to reduce the rewarding effects of nicotine in rats and squirrel monkeys. Fibrates are known to activate a hormone receptor that regulates energy and lipid metabolism and that has recently been implicated in regulating the behavioral effects of nicotine. The team found that administering a fibrate prevented nicotine addiction, decreased nicotine intake, and protected against relapses in the animals tested. It is yet to be determined whether these results are replicated in humans, however if they prove to be, this may be an effective way to treat tobacco addiction while reducing the smoking-associated risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Steven Goldberg (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD, USA)
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Editorial contact for Neuropsychopharmacology:
Natalie Marler (Neuropsychopharmacology, Brentwood, TN, USA)
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