Acute Effects of Nicotine on Arterial Stiffness and Wave Reflection in Healthy Young Non-Smokers

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2009 Aug;36(8):784-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2009.05141.x. Epub 2009 Jan 17.


1. Recently, we have demonstrated that cigarette smoke exposure proportionally increases plasma nicotine levels and arterial wave reflection to the aorta. However, the exact contribution of nicotine to the smoke-induced enhancement of wave reflection and the potential underlying mechanisms have not been fully investigated. 2. The present study was a prospective study in 15 healthy male non-smokers. All received a placebo and a 2 mg nicotine tablet, according to a randomized double-blind cross-over study design. Each subject underwent repeated measurements at baseline and for 1 h after nicotine or placebo intake, using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) to assess arterial compliance. Concurrently, aortic pressures and the augmentation index were evaluated using applanation tonometry. 3. Plasma nicotine concentrations achieved 1 h after intake of the nicotine tablet reached comparable levels to those achieved after 1 h exposure to passive smoke (3.6 +/- 0.4 vs 3.2 +/- 0.4 ng/mL, respectively; P = 0.4). 4. Nicotine enhanced arterial wave reflection to the aorta, as assessed by the augmentation index corrected for heart rate (4.2 +/- 1.3 vs-0.7 +/- 0.8% with placebo; P = 0.001). In addition, a progressive increase in carotid-femoral PWV was noted after nicotine administration (0.3 +/- 0.1 vs-0.02 +/- 0.1 m/s with placebo; P = 0.04). This remained significant even after adjustment for changes in mean blood pressure and heart rate (P = 0.01). 5. Plasma nicotine concentrations comparable to those achieved after exposure to passive smoke enhance arterial wave reflection to the aorta. This is accompanied by an increase in carotid-femoral PWV, denoting a deterioration of arterial compliance by nicotine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / drug effects*
  • Aorta / physiopathology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Carotid Arteries / drug effects*
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Elasticity
  • Femoral Artery / drug effects*
  • Femoral Artery / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine