Progesterone improves cognitive performance and attenuates smoking urges in abstinent smokers

Mehmet Sofuoglu, Maria Mouratidis, Marc E Mooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background: Progesterone, a steroid hormone, has been implicated in many CNS functions including reward, cognition, and neuroprotection. The goal of this study was to examine the dose-dependent effects of progesterone on cognitive performance, smoking urges, and smoking behavior in smokers. Methods: Thirty female and thirty-four male smokers participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Female smokers were in the early follicular phase of their menstrual cycle during study participation. Smokers were randomly assigned to either 200 or 400. mg/day of progesterone or placebo, given in two separate doses, during clinic visit. The first 3 days of the treatment period, smokers abstained from smoking, which was verified with breath CO levels. Smokers attended an experimental session on day 4 where the number of cigarettes smoked were recorded starting 2. h after the medication treatment. Results: Progesterone treatment, 200. mg/day, significantly improved cognitive performance in the Stroop and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test. Progesterone at 400. mg/day was associated with reduced urges for smoking but did not change ad lib smoking behavior. Conclusions: These findings suggest a potential therapeutic value of progesterone for smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Mooney has received research grants from Pfizer Corporation. The remaining authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Veterans Administration Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grants R01-DA 14537, K02-DA021304 (MS) and K01-DA-019446 (MM). The funding agencies had no further role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Cognitive performance
  • Menstrual cycle phase
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Progesterone
  • Sex differences


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