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Nicotine receptor partial agonists for smoking cessation

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, May 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (98th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (96th percentile)

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Nicotine receptor partial agonists for smoking cessation
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, May 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd006103.pub7
Pubmed ID

Kate Cahill, Nicola Lindson-Hawley, Kyla H Thomas, Thomas R Fanshawe, Tim Lancaster


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). To review the efficacy 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 ('cytisine' or 'Tabex' or 'dianicline' or 'varenicline' or 'nicotine receptor partial agonist') in the title or abstract, or as keywords. The register is compiled from searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO using MeSH terms and free text to identify controlled trials of interventions for smoking cessation and prevention. We contacted authors of trial reports for additional information where necessary. The latest update of the specialised register was in May 2015, although we have included a few key trials published after this date. We also searched online clinical trials registers. We included randomised 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 randomisation procedure, concealment of allocation, and completeness of follow-up.The main outcome measured was abstinence from smoking at longest follow-up. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence, and preferred biochemically validated rates where they were reported. Where appropriate we pooled risk ratios (RRs), using the Mantel-Haenszel fixed-effect model. Two trials of cytisine (937 people) found that more participants taking cytisine stopped smoking compared with placebo at longest follow-up, with a pooled risk ratio (RR) of 3.98 (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.01 to 7.87; low-quality evidence). One recent trial comparing cytisine with NRT in 1310 people found a benefit for cytisine at six months (RR 1.43, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.80).One trial of dianicline (602 people) failed to find evidence that it was effective (RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.75). This drug is no longer in development.We identified 39 trials that tested varenicline, 27 of which contributed to the primary analysis (varenicline versus placebo). Five of these trials also included a bupropion treatment arm. Eight trials compared varenicline with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Nine studies tested variations in varenicline dosage, and 13 tested usage in disease-specific subgroups of patients. The included studies covered 25,290 participants, 11,801 of whom used varenicline.The pooled RR for continuous or sustained abstinence at six months or longer for varenicline at standard dosage versus placebo was 2.24 (95% CI 2.06 to 2.43; 27 trials, 12,625 people; high-quality evidence). Varenicline at lower or variable doses was also shown to be effective, with an RR of 2.08 (95% CI 1.56 to 2.78; 4 trials, 1266 people). The pooled RR for varenicline versus bupropion at six months was 1.39 (95% CI 1.25 to 1.54; 5 trials, 5877 people; high-quality evidence). The RR for varenicline versus NRT for abstinence at 24 weeks was 1.25 (95% CI 1.14 to 1.37; 8 trials, 6264 people; moderate-quality evidence). Four trials which tested the use of varenicline beyond the 12-week standard regimen found the drug to be well-tolerated during long-term use. The number needed to treat with varenicline for an additional beneficial outcome, based on the weighted mean control rate, is 11 (95% CI 9 to 13). The most commonly reported adverse effect of varenicline was nausea, which was mostly at mild to moderate levels and usually subsided over time. Our analysis of reported serious adverse events occurring during or after active treatment suggests there may be a 25% increase in the chance of SAEs among people using varenicline (RR 1.25; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.49; 29 trials, 15,370 people; high-quality evidence). These events include comorbidities such as infections, cancers and injuries, and most were considered by the trialists to be unrelated to the treatments. There is also evidence of higher losses to follow-up in the control groups compared with the intervention groups, leading to a likely underascertainment of the true rate of SAEs among the controls. Early concerns about a possible association between varenicline and depressed mood, agitation, and suicidal behaviour or ideation led to the addition of a boxed warning to the labelling in 2008. However, subsequent observational cohort studies and meta-analyses have not confirmed these fears, and the findings of the EAGLES trial do not support a causal link between varenicline and neuropsychiatric disorders, including suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviour. The evidence is not conclusive, however, in people with past or current psychiatric disorders. Concerns have also been raised that varenicline may slightly increase cardiovascular events in people already at increased risk of those illnesses. Current evidence neither supports nor refutes such an association, but we await the findings of the CATS trial, which should establish whether or not this is a valid concern. Cytisine increases the chances of quitting, although absolute quit rates were modest in two recent trials. Varenicline at standard dose increased the chances of successful long-term smoking cessation between two- and three-fold compared with pharmacologically unassisted quit attempts. Lower dose regimens also conferred benefits for cessation, while reducing the incidence of adverse events. More participants quit successfully with varenicline than with bupropion or with NRT. Limited evidence suggests that varenicline may have a role to play in relapse prevention. The most frequently recorded adverse effect of varenicline is nausea, but mostly at mild to moderate levels and tending to subside over time. Early reports of possible links to suicidal ideation and behaviour have not been confirmed by current research.Future trials of cytisine may test extended regimens and more intensive behavioural support.

X Demographics

X Demographics

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

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Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Unknown 871 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 136 16%
Student > Master 135 15%
Researcher 100 11%
Student > Ph. D. Student 70 8%
Student > Doctoral Student 53 6%
Other 140 16%
Unknown 241 28%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 294 34%
Psychology 76 9%
Nursing and Health Professions 69 8%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 29 3%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 24 3%
Other 105 12%
Unknown 278 32%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 192. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 17 March 2023.
All research outputs
of 24,761,242 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,970 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 307,731 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 280 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 24,761,242 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,970 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 34.9. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 307,731 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 280 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 96% of its contemporaries.