Nicotinic receptor-mediated effects on appetite and food intake

J Neurobiol. 2002 Dec;53(4):618-32. doi: 10.1002/neu.10147.


It is well known, although not well understood, that smoking and eating just do not go together. Smoking is associated with decreased food intake and lower body weight. Nicotine, administered either by smoking or by smokeless routes, is considered the major appetite-suppressing component of tobacco. Perhaps the most renowned example of nicotine's influence on appetite and feeding behavior is the significant weight gain associated with smoking cessation. This article presents an overview of the literature at, or near, the interface of nicotinic receptors and appetite regulation. We first consider some of the possible sites of nicotine's action along the complex network of neural and non-neural regulators of feeding. We then present the hypothesis that the lateral hypothalamus is a particularly important locus of the anorectic effects of nicotine. Finally, we discuss the potential role of endogenous cholinergic systems in motivational feeding, focusing on cholinergic pathways in the lateral hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / drug effects*
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects*
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Smoking


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Nicotine