The therapeutic potential of nicotine and nicotinic agonists for weight control

D. Gurwitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Transdermal nicotine patches have been successfully introduced as a safe and powerful aid to smoking cessation; this has contributed to the rising interest in additional therapeutic applications for nicotine and synthetic nicotinic agonists. Nicotine and nicotinic agonists may have a therapeutic potential for a variety of disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, depression, attention deficit disorder, Tourette's syndrome and ulcerative colitis. These interests are partially fuelled by the urgent need of the tobacco industry to find new niches for nicotine in a world bound eventually to retire from cigarette smoking. At the same time, there is an increased interest in developing drugs for fighting obesity, a growing affliction of industrialised nations. This review presents data on the potential of nicotine, and in particular synthetic nicotinic agonists, for controlling body weight. Nicotinic agonists may become relatively safe, effective and inexpensive alternatives for several optional drugs currently being developed for treating human obesity, including β-3-adrenergic agonists, leptin and its agonists, and neuropeptide Y antagonists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-760
Number of pages14
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • Cotinine
  • Dopamine
  • Leptin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic agonists
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Smoking
  • Transdermal drug delivery
  • Weight control


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