Anatabine, Nornicotine, and Anabasine Reduce Weight Gain and Body Fat through Decreases in Food Intake and Increases in Physical Activity

Patricia E. Grebenstein, Paige Erickson, Martha Grace, Catherine M. Kotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Currently approved pharmacotherapies for the treatment of obesity are associated with rebound weight gain, negative side effects, and the potential for abuse. There is a need for new treatments with fewer side effects. Minor tobacco alkaloids (MTAs) are potential candidates for novel obesity pharmacotherapies. These alkaloids are structurally related to nicotine, which can help reduce body weight, but without the same addictive potential. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of three MTAs (nornicotine, anatabine, and anabasine) and nicotine on weight gain, body composition, chow intake, and physical activity. We hypothesized that the MTAs and nicotine would reduce weight gain through reductions in chow intake and increases in physical activity. To test this, male Sprague Dawley rats were housed in metabolic phenotyping chambers. Following acclimation to these chambers and to (subcutaneous (sc)) injections of saline, animals received daily injections (sc) of nornicotine, anabasine, anatabine, or nicotine for one week. Compared to saline-injected animals that gained body weight and body fat during the treatment phase, injections of nornicotine and anatabine prevented additional weight gain, alongside reductions in body fat. Rats receiving anabasine and nicotine gained body weight at a slower rate relative to rats receiving saline injections, and body fat remained unchanged. All compounds reduced the intake of chow pellets. Nornicotine and nicotine produced consistent increases in physical activity 6 h post-injection, whereas anabasine’s and anatabine’s effects on physical activity were more transient. These results show that short-term, daily administration of nornicotine, anabasine, and anatabine has positive effects on weight loss, through reductions in body fat and food intake and increases in physical activity. Together, these findings suggest that MTAs are worthy of further investigations as anti-obesity pharmacotherapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number481
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (5IK2BX003838-05 to PEG; 1 I01 BX003687-01A1 to CMK), and the National Institutes of Health, NIDDK (T32DK083250 to PEG and CMK).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Body weight
  • Minor tobacco alkaloids
  • Nicotine
  • Obesity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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