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Acute nicotine administration stimulates [(14)C]deoxyglucose trapping in thalamus and other regions of rat brain, but acute effects of nicotine and smoking on energy metabolism have rarely been investigated in human brain by positron emission tomography (PET). We obtained quantitative PET measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) in 12 smokers who had refrained from smoking overnight, and in a historical group of nonsmokers, testing the prediction that overnight abstinence results in widespread, coupled reductions of CBF and CMRO2. At the end of the abstention period, global grey-matter CBF and CMRO2 were both reduced by 17% relative to nonsmokers. At 15 minutes after renewed smoking, global CBF had increased insignificantly, while global CMRO2 had increased by 11%. Regional analysis showed that CMRO2 had increased in the left putamen and thalamus, and in right posterior cortical regions at this time. At 60 and 105 minutes after smoking resumption, CBF had increased by 8% and CMRO2 had increased by 11-12%. Thus, we find substantial and global impairment of CBF/CMRO2 in abstaining smokers, and acute restoration by resumption of smoking. The reduced CBF and CMRO2 during acute abstention may mediate the cognitive changes described in chronic smokers.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cereb Blood Flow Metab

Publication Date





699 - 705


Adult, Brain, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Energy Metabolism, Female, Humans, Male, Oxygen, Oxygen Consumption, Positron-Emission Tomography, Smoking, Young Adult