Response to nicotine following overnight smoking abstinence during short-term progesterone treatment in women

Sharon Allen, Ashley Petersen, Katherine Harrison, Nicole Tosun, Jacquelyn Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preclinical and clinical literature suggest that sex hormones impact tobacco use behaviors in women. The goal of this double-blind crossover laboratory study was to examine the effect of oral exogenous progesterone (200 mg twice per day) versus placebo on nicotine response using measures of motor speed and cognitive function in women following overnight smoking abstinence. We hypothesized that increased progesterone would blunt the nicotine response whereby producing less change in motor speed and cognition in response to nicotine exposure. Female smokers, age 18 -35, were randomized to participate in two 9-day crossover testing weeks. Participants completed a lab session following overnight abstinence where they were administered nicotine nasal spray and asked to complete measures of immediate memory (IMT), delayed memory (DMT), word recall (WR), and finger tapping speed (FT). After the first 9-day testing week, participants resumed smoking and returned the following month to complete the identical lab session in the crossover condition. Forty-seven women were included in this analysis (n = 47). We found no differences in the magnitude of response for IMT, DMT, and WR between conditions. For FT, women had a blunted response to nicotine during the placebo condition. When examining the association between hormone levels and relative performance, we found increases in DMT, WR, and FT but decreases in IMT during the progesterone condition. We observed differences between progesterone versus placebo in relative change in some measures of nicotine response following overnight abstinence. Future studies are needed to further characterize this response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-316
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this project was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA08075). Support was also provided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (UL1TR000114). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. All authors contributed in a significant way to the manuscript and all authors have read and approved the final manuscript. No authors have a conflict of interest to disclose. We would like to acknowledge Brittany Niesen for her assistance with recruitment and data collection. We also thank Dr. Frank Stanczyk, a Professor of Research, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Reproductive Endocrine Research Laboratory at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, for his expertise in the analysis of serum hormone samples.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Impulsivity
  • Memory
  • Motor speed
  • Nicotine response
  • Sex hormones

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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