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Scripps Research scientists reveal key mechanism governing nicotine addiction
Date:1/30/2011

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The scientists repeated the experiments with rats and produced similar results. In this case, the scientists used a virus to "knock out" α5 nAChR subunits in the medial habenula. When the α5* nAChRs were decreased, the animals were more aggressive in seeking higher doses of nicotine. When the subunit remained unaltered, the animals showed more restraint.

The scientists then worked out the biochemical mechanisms through which α5* nAChRs operate in the medial habenula to control the addictive properties of nicotine. They found that α5* nAChRs regulate just how responsive the habenula is to nicotine, and that the habenula is involved in some of the negative responses to nicotine consumption. So when α5* nAChRs do not function properly, the habenula is less responsive to nicotine and much more of the drug can be consumed without negative feedback from the brain.

The scientists are optimistic that their findings may one day lead to help for smokers who want to kick the habit. Based on the new findings, the Scripps Florida scientists have started a new program of research in collaboration with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania to develop new drugs to boost α5* nAChR signaling and decrease the addictive properties of nicotine.


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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