Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 18482433
Addict Biol 2008 Jun;13(2):239-52
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death in developed countries. Since existing medications are only partially effective in treating tobacco smokers, there is a great need for improved medications for smoking cessation. It has been recently proposed that cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonists represent a new class of therapeutic agents for drug dependence, and notably, nicotine dependence. Here, we will review current evidence supporting the use of this class of drugs for smoking cessation treatment. Pre-clinical studies indicate that nicotine exposure produces changes in endocannabinoid content in the brain. In experimental animals, N-piperidinyl-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methylpyrazole-3-carboxamide (rimonabant, SR141716) and N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (AM251), two cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonists, block nicotine self-administration behavior, an effect that may be related to the blockade of the dopamine-releasing effects of nicotine in the brain. Rimonabant also seems efficacious in decreasing the influence of nicotine-associated stimuli over behavior, suggesting that it may act on two distinct neuronal pathways, those implicated in drug-taking behavior and those involved in relapse phenomena. The utility of rimonabant has been evaluated in several clinical trials. It seems that rimonabant is an efficacious treatment for smoking cessation, although its efficacy does not exceed that of nicotine-replacement therapy and its use may be limited by emotional side effects (nausea, anxiety and depression, mostly). Rimonabant also appears to decrease relapse rates in smokers. These findings indicate significant, but limited, utility of rimonabant for smoking cessation.