Cigarette smoking and the adrenergic nervous system

Clin Exp Hypertens A. 1992;14(1-2):251-60. doi: 10.3109/10641969209036186.


The acute increase in blood pressure and heart rate that accompanies cigarette smoking is associated with a rise in plasma catecholamines and it is thus believed to result from stimulation of the adrenergic nervous system. We have employed direct recording of efferent post-ganglionic sympathetic nerve activity by the microneurographic technique from the peroneal nerve to determine whether this stimulation occurs centrally or peripherally. It was shown that during cigarette smoking blood pressure, heart rate, plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine do increase markedly. Sympathetic nerve activity, however, shows a concomitant specular reduction. Thus peripheral (adrenal gland stimulation, reduction in norepinephrine reuptake, reduction in catecholamine clearance, etc.) rather than central mechanisms explain the adrenergic involvement in the acute hemodynamic effect of smoking, the central sympathetic drive being inhibited rather than excited probably as a result of arterial baroreceptor stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*


  • Catecholamines