Genetics

Smoking cessation: A genetic mutation involved in relapse

Why is it so difficult to stop smoking? Why do some people relapse months after giving up? Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with Sorbonne University and Inserm, have demonstrated that a ...

Neuroscience

New insights into nicotine's effect on reward pathways

Northwestern scientists have discovered new mechanisms used by nicotine to manipulate the brain's reward pathway—findings which could inform the development of future anti-addiction therapies.

Medical research

Scientists develop new tool to study nicotine receptors

A team of scientists has developed a new technique to better understand the effects of nicotine on the brain. In a study published in Nature Methods, the investigators described the creation of a novel light-activated nicotine ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Researchers identify gene that influences nicotine dependence

A DNA variant—located in the DNMT3B gene and commonly found in people of European and African descent—increases the likelihood of developing nicotine dependence, smoking heavily, and developing lung cancer, according ...

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Nicotine

Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae) which constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of dry weight of tobacco, with biosynthesis taking place in the roots, and accumulating in the leaves. It functions as an antiherbivore chemical with particular specificity to insects; therefore nicotine was widely used as an insecticide in the past, and currently nicotine analogs such as imidacloprid continue to be widely used.

In low concentrations (an average cigarette yields about 1 mg of absorbed nicotine), the substance acts as a stimulant in mammals and is one of the main factors responsible for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco smoking. According to the American Heart Association, "Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break." The pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Nicotine content in cigarettes has actually slowly increased over the years, and one study found that there was an average increase of 1.6% per year between the years of 1998 and 2005. This was found for all major market categories of cigarettes.

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