Nicotine receptor partial agonists for smoking cessation.
Nicotine receptor partial agonists may help people to stop smoking by a combination of maintaining moderate levels of dopamine to counteract withdrawal symptoms (acting as an agonist) and reducing smoking satisfaction (acting as an antagonist). Varenicline was developed as a nicotine receptor partial agonist from cytisine, a drug widely used in central and eastern Europe for smoking cessation. The first trial reports of varenicline were released in 2006, and further trials have now been published or are currently underway. The primary objective of this review is to assess the efficacy and tolerability of nicotine receptor partial agonists, including varenicline and cytisine, for smoking cessation. We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group's specialised register for trials, using the terms ('varenicline' or 'cytisine' or 'Tabex' or 'nicotine receptor partial agonist') and 'smoking' in the title or abstract, or as keywords. We also searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL using MeSH terms and free text, and we contacted authors of trial reports for additional information where necessary. The latest search was in September 2010. We included randomized controlled trials which compared the treatment drug with placebo. We also included comparisons with bupropion and nicotine patches where available. We excluded trials which did not report a minimum follow-up period of six months from start of treatment. We extracted data on the type of participants, the dose and duration of treatment, the outcome measures, the randomization procedure, concealment of allocation, and completeness of follow up.The main outcome measured was abstinence from smoking after at least six months from the beginning of treatment.