Recent preclinical evidence suggests that leptin may modulate the stress response and may increase nociception. In this study, we examined for the first time the extent to which cigarette smoking is associated with leptin levels during an extended rest period and in response to noxious stimuli. Repeated blood samples were collected during a laboratory session from smokers and nonsmokers and assayed for leptin. Pain experiences, as well as neuroendocrine and cardiovascular measures, were collected across cold pressor and thermal heat pain tests. Both analysis of variance and correlations confirmed that smokers demonstrated dysregulations in leptin responsivity and association with pain relative to nonsmokers. The flat pattern of leptin release and the weak associations of this hormone with pain in smokers suggest a long-term effect of tobacco dependence on this regulatory hormone. In light of leptin's influence on reward pathways, further investigation of leptin's involvement in nicotine dependence is warranted.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by grants to the first author from the National Institute of Health ( R01DA016351 and R01DA027232 ).