Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Hostility May Play Role in Nicotine Addiction

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Hostility May Play Role in Nicotine Addiction

Article excerpt

BETHESDA, MD. -- Adolescents and people who are naturally hostile may be more biologically susceptible to the effects of nicotine. At least that's what researchers at the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, are finding.

"Adolescence is a time of unique biological sensitivity to the psychoactive effects of tobacco. However, underlying personality traits such as hostility can influence the biological response to nicotine," Frances M. Leslie, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the American Society of Preventive Oncology.

The Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) initiative is a collaborative effort to study nicotine addiction and ways to combat tobacco use. The program--jointly funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse--involves seven participating universities, including the University of California, Irvine, which has been focusing on youth smoking.

Researchers at the center used PET imaging to demonstrate that there is a brain metabolic response to nicotine in people with high levels of hostility, in marked contrast to the lack of metabolic response in people with low hostility levels. These findings may help explain why quitting smoking is almost impossible for some, while others discard the practice with little fuss, said Dr. Leslie, the TTURC director in Irvine.

For the study, 55 nonsmokers and 31 smokers were evaluated for degree of hostility using the Cook-Medley items from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Men with a Cook-Medley value greater than 25 and women with a value greater than 18 were labeled high hostility. Those with values below the threshold were considered low hostility (Brain Res. Cogn. Brain Res. 2004;18:142-8).

Smokers and nonsmokers were imaged using radioactive fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) with both a placebo patch and a 3.5-mg nicotine patch while performing a hostility task. Smokers also were imaged with a 21-mg nicotine patch to approximate levels achieved during smoking.

When compared with placebo, FDG images of low-hostility nonsmokers on the 3.5-mg patch showed no differences. There were, however, dramatic metabolic increases throughout almost all cortical and subcortical sectors of the brains of high-hostility nonsmokers on the 3.5-mg patch. This suggests that a person's tendency toward hostility predicts metabolic response to nicotine.

The researchers also looked at FDG images of low-hostility smokers who received placebo versus 3.5-mg and 21-mg nicotine patches. …

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