November 04, 2019
An unlikely medication used to treat diabetes may have a secondary role in helping smokers battle nicotine withdrawal symptoms as they try to kick the habit.
New research published in the journal JNeurosci provides promising evidence from tests of the drug on mice and rats in a lab setting.
Quitting smoking is a notoriously difficult process due to the severe withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, including cravings, increased appetite, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and depression.
The research team behind the study decided to try the diabetes drug pioglitazone because it targets specific areas of the brain involved in drug addiction.
The study found that direct injections of pioglitazone into the hippocampi of nicotine-addicted male mice mitigated signs of the physical symptoms of withdrawal. These mice displayed reduced paw tremors, chattering, and head shakes.
Injections of the drug into the amygdalas of these mice correspondingly reduced signs of anxiety.
Because nicotine abuse increases an individual's risk for diabetes, the researchers suggest that pioglitazone should be considered as a medication to help diabetic smokers quit while reducing insulin resistance.