Neuroactive steroids, negative affect, and nicotine dependence severity in male smokers.
RATIONALE: Nicotine administration alters neuroactive steroids in rodent models, and serum levels of the neuroactive steroid DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) appear to be higher in smokers. These molecules may be relevant to tobacco addiction and affective symptoms. OBJECTIVES: This study aims to investigate DHEAS, allopregnanolone, pregnenolone, and other steroids in male smokers to determine potential associations with nicotine dependence severity and negative affect. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Allopregnanolone and pregnenolone serum levels were determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, while DHEAS and other steroid levels were determined by radioimmunoassay in 28 male smokers. Correlational analyses were performed to determine potential associations with rating measures, including the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), the addiction subscale of the Ikard Smoking Motivation Questionnaire (ISMQ), the craving item on the Reasons to Smoke (RTS) Questionnaire, and the negative affect and craving subscales of the Shiffman-Jarvik Withdrawal Questionnaire. RESULTS: DHEAS levels were inversely correlated with the negative affect subscale of the Shiffman-Jarvik Withdrawal Questionnaire (r=-0.60, p=0.002) and the RTS craving item (r=-0.43, p=0.03), and tended to be inversely correlated with the FTND scores (r=-0.38, p=0.067) and the ISMQ addiction subscale (r=-0.38, p=0.059), adjusting for age. Allopregnanolone levels were positively correlated with cotinine levels (r=0.57, p=0.006); pregnenolone levels tended to be positively correlated with cotinine levels (r=0.40, p=0.066). CONCLUSIONS: DHEAS levels were inversely correlated with negative affect and craving measures, and may predict nicotine dependence severity. Allopregnanolone levels were positively correlated with cotinine levels, suggesting that this neuroactive steroid may be upregulated in smokers. Neuroactive steroids may represent novel smoking cessation agents.
Marx, CE; Trost, WT; Shampine, L; Behm, FM; Giordano, LA; Massing, MW; Rose, JE
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