Adrenergic blocker carvedilol attenuates the cardiovascular and aversive effects of nicotine in abstinent smokers

Behav Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;17(8):731-5. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e32801155d4.


The cardiovascular response to nicotine is mediated mainly by noradrenergic activation. Whether noradrenergic activation mediates other effects of nicotine has not been well documented in humans. In this study, we examined the effects of an alpha and beta-adrenergic receptor blocker: carvedilol, on cardiovascular and subjective responses to nicotine lozenge and on the ability of nicotine lozenge to suppress tobacco withdrawal symptoms in overnight abstinent smokers. Fifteen smokers, nine men and six women, participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. In each of the three experimental sessions, participants were treated orally with a single 25 or 50 mg dose of carvedilol or placebo. Two hours and 10 min following the medication treatment, participants received a single 4 mg nicotine lozenge. Carvedilol treatment attenuated the nicotine-induced heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure increases. Carvedilol also attenuated the self-report rating of 'bad effects' in response to nicotine. Carvedilol, alone or in combination with nicotine lozenge, did not affect tobacco withdrawal symptoms. Carvedilol treatment did not affect performance on the Stroop Test. These results support the effectiveness of carvedilol for attenuating the cardiovascular effects of nicotine. Attenuation of the rating of 'bad effects' by carvedilol suggests that noradrenergic activation may also mediate the aversive effects of nicotine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Carbazoles / pharmacology*
  • Carvedilol
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Ganglionic Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Propanolamines / pharmacology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / drug therapy
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology


  • Adrenergic Antagonists
  • Carbazoles
  • Ganglionic Stimulants
  • Propanolamines
  • Carvedilol
  • Nicotine