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Baroreflex dysfunction contributes to increased cardiovascular risk in cigarette smokers. Given the importance of adenosinergic pathways in baroreflex control, the hypothesis was tested that defective central adenosinergic modulation of cardiac autonomic activity mediates the nicotine–baroreflex interaction. Baroreflex curves relating changes in heart rate (HR) to increases or decreases in blood pressure (BP) evoked by i.v. doses (1–16 μg/kg) of phenylephrine (PE) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP), respectively, were constructed in conscious rats; slopes of the curves were taken as measures of baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). Nicotine (25 and 100 μg/kg i.v.) dose-dependently reduced BRSSNP in contrast to no effect on BRSPE. BRSSNP was also attenuated after intracisternal (i.c.) administration of nicotine. Similar reductions in BRSSNP were observed in rats pretreated with atropine or propranolol. The combined treatment with nicotine and atropine produced additive inhibitory effects on BRS, an effect that was not demonstrated upon concurrent exposure to nicotine and propranolol. BRSSNP was reduced in preparations treated with i.c. 8-phenyltheophylline (8-PT, nonselective adenosine receptor antagonist), 8-(3-Chlorostyryl) caffeine (CSC, A2A antagonist), or VUF5574 (A3 antagonist). In contrast, BRSSNP was preserved after blockade of A1 (DPCPX) or A2B (alloxazine) receptors or inhibition of adenosine uptake by dipyridamole. CSC or 8-PT abrogated the BRSSNP depressant effect of nicotine whereas other adenosinergic antagonists were without effect. Together, nicotine preferentially impairs reflex tachycardia via disruption of adenosine A2A receptor-mediated facilitation of reflex cardiac sympathoexcitation. Clinically, the attenuation by nicotine of compensatory sympathoexcitation may be detrimental in conditions such as hypothalamic defense response, posture changes, and ventricular rhythms.