In France, almost 80,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of smoking. A high mortality rate that sometimes affects people who smoke only occasionally. Despite multiple prevention and education campaigns on smoking cessation, thetobacco addiction remains problematic. An American study recently brought surprising results to light. They would allow a better understanding of the biological mechanisms behind this addiction. These data were published in the scientific journal natural medicine.
Tobacco addiction and stroke
L’tobacco addiction is at the heart of the problem of smoking and smoking cessation. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying this addiction is one of the keys to optimizing smoking control strategies. In this context, American researchers recently proposed a surprising link between smoking and stroke.
The common point between tobacco addiction and cardiovascular disease is brain damage. To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers proceeded from an observation: in rare cases, the occurrence of brain damage can eliminate tobacco addiction, thereby contributing to smoking cessation. The mechanism that explains this phenomenon would make it possible to develop new therapeutic strategies against smoking.
Map brain damage and neural circuits
To go further, the researchers analyzed data from two cohorts of patients who were smokers at the time they suffered brain damage from stroke:
- A cohort of 67 patients;
- A cohort of 62 patients.
At the same time, the researchers followed another independent cohort consisting of 186 participants who had also had a stroke but were dependent on alcohol rather than tobacco.
The localization of brain lesions and the effects on the functionality of neuronal networks of the brain as well as 37 neuropsychological variables were analyzed. The results obtained showed that the cerebral lesions capable of stopping tobacco addiction were localized in different regions of the brain, but all were characterized by a specific neural connection circuit. This pattern, connecting multiple brain regions, was reproducible between cohorts.
What if neuromodulation could overcome tobacco addiction?
The observed brain damage and neural circuitry had a specific effect on addiction mechanisms. In fact, they reduced the risk of tobacco addiction, but also alcohol. Researchers were able to identify the brain lesions that had the strongest impact on addiction mechanisms.
By comparing this data to that of patients whose brain damage had no effect on their smoking, the researchers identified some key brain areas involved in addiction and the neural circuits that connect them. In their opinion, this discovery would make it possible to develop a new therapeutic strategy against smoking. This particular neural circuit would be a potential target. Thus, the neuromodulation of this circuit couldtobacco addiction. A therapeutic promise that still needs to be checked and further developed!
Estelle B., Doctor of Pharmacy