Associations between adrenocortical activity and nicotine response in female smokers by menstrual phase

Eileen A. Huttlin, Alicia M Allen, Nicole L. Tosun, Sharon S Allen, Mustafa N al'Absi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Previous research suggests that menstrual phase may influence smoking-related symptomatology. The present study analyzes the relationship between menstrual phase and salivary cortisol with subjective responses to nicotine among female smokers during ad libitum smoking. We hypothesize higher cortisol levels would be associated with increased positive and decreased negative subjective responses to nicotine. We also expected that these associations would vary by menstrual phase. Females aged 18-40 who smoke at least five cigarettes/day, reported regular menstrual cycles and did not use exogenous hormones or psychotropic medications were enrolled into a controlled cross-over trial. Participants completed identical data collection procedures during follicular (F) and luteal (L) phases; including self-collected salivary cortisol samples and completion of a nicotine response lab session involving administration of nicotine nasal spray and monitoring of subjective response to nicotine via the Subjective State Scale and Visual Analog Scale. Participants (n = 116) were 29.1. ±. 6.9. years old and smoked an average of 12.3. ±. 5.5 cigarettes daily. During F phase, higher morning cortisol was associated with decreased negative affect (r = - 0.21, p = 0.03), withdrawal (r = - 0.30, p. < 0.01) and increased relaxation (r = 0.24, p = 0.02) after administration of nicotine nasal spray. Conversely, during L phase, higher morning cortisol was associated with a decrease in head rush (r = - 0.26, p = 0.01) and urge to smoke (r = - 0.21, p = 0.04) after administration of nicotine nasal spray. Similar associations between greater diurnal cortisol variation and response to nicotine were seen. These observations indicate that cortisol may have a phase-specific association with some subjective responses to nicotine in female smokers. Additional research should explore how these relationships may influence smoking cessation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by NIH/NIDA R01DA08075 , NIH/NIDA/OWHR P50-DA033942 and Minnesota Medical Foundation (UMF 4166-9295-13) . Additional support was provided by the University of Minnesota's Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program (# K12HD055887 ) and Masonic Cancer Center (A. Allen). This publication was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114 . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. These funding sources had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, writing the manuscript or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Funding Information:
Funding: NIH/NIDA R01-DA008075 ; NIH/NIDA/OWHR P50-DA033942 ; NIH/NCRR M01RR00400 ; NIH/NCRR 1UL1RR033183 ; NIH/NCATS 8UL1TR00011 ; NIH/NICHD K12HD055887 ; Minnesota Medical Foundation Student Research Grant ( UMF 4166-9295-13 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Cortisol
  • Menstrual phase
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking
  • Subjective response


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