Frontiers in Pharmacology
Why are menthol cigarettes more addictive?
Smokers of menthol cigarettes crave cigarettes more frequently, find it more difficult to quit smoking, and are more likely to become addicted. The traditional explanation for the effect of menthol is that it masks the harsh taste of tobacco and thus entices people to smoke more.
But Nadine Kabbani from George Mason University in the USA here review recent scientific findings and proposes an novel explanation: menthol may directly promote nicotine craving because it binds to a particular type of nicotinic receptor within nerve cells, the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and impairs its response to nicotine. Furthermore, in the longer term, menthol seems to promote the expression of other nicotinic receptor genes in regions of the brain that process pleasure, reward, and addiction. Kabbani concludes that it is time to re-examine rules and regulations on menthol cigarettes.
Prof Nadine Kabbani
Department of Molecular Neuroscience
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study
George Mason University, USA
Frontiers in Plant Science
A major evolutionary transition in the development of grasses
In many plants, flowers occur in inflorescences, clusters that develop through almost mathematical branching patterns. These patterns strongly impact the size and number of seeds and the success of pollination, which is why they are often conserved by natural selection over long evolutionary periods. But Elizabeth Kellogg from the University of Missouri, together with colleagues from Brazil,
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