Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Eliminating protein in specific brain cells blocks nicotine reward

27.07.2011
Animal study suggests a common process for both the pleasurable and anxiety-reducing effects of nicotine

Removing a protein from cells located in the brain's reward center blocks the anxiety-reducing and rewarding effects of nicotine, according to a new animal study in the July 27 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings may help researchers better understand how nicotine affects the brain.

Nicotine works by binding to proteins called nicotinic receptors on the surface of brain cells. In the new study, researchers led by Tresa McGranahan, Stephen Heinemann, PhD, and T. K. Booker, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, found that removing a specific type of nicotinic receptor from brain cells that produce dopamine — a chemical released in response to reward — makes mice less likely to seek out nicotine. The mice also did not show reductions in anxiety-like behaviors normally seen after nicotine treatment. Smokers commonly report anxiety relief as a key factor in continued smoking or relapse.

"These findings show that the rewarding and anxiety-reducing properties of nicotine, thought to play a key role in the development of tobacco addiction, are related to actions at a single set of brain cells," said Paul Kenny, PhD, an expert on drug addiction at Scripps Research Institute, who was unaffiliated with the study.

Previous studies showed blocking the alpha4 nicotinic receptor within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) — a brain region important in motivation, emotion, and addiction — decreases the rewarding properties of nicotine. Because alpha4 receptors are present on several cell types in the VTA, it was unclear how nicotine produced pleasurable feelings.

To zero in on the circuit important in the brain's response to nicotine, researchers developed mice with a mutation that left them unable to produce the alpha4 receptor, but only on dopamine brain cells. Mice lacking alpha4 receptors in these cells spent less time looking to obtain nicotine compared with normal mice, suggesting the alpha4 receptors are required for the rewarding effects of nicotine. Nicotine also failed to reduce anxiety-like behaviors in the mutant mice, as it normally does in healthy mice.

"Identification of the type of nicotinic receptors necessary for two key features of nicotine addiction — reward and anxiety — may help us better understand the pathway that leads to nicotine dependence, and potential treatment for the one billion cigarette smokers worldwide," McGranahan said. Diseases from tobacco use remain a major killer throughout the world, causing more than 5 million deaths per year.

The findings could guide researchers to a better understanding of the mechanisms of tobacco addiction and assist in the development of new drugs to treat tobacco addiction and provide relief from anxiety disorders, Kenny added.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of more than 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. McGranahan can be reached at tmcgranahan@ucsd.edu. More information on the science of addiction can be found in the Society's Brain Briefings and Research & Discoveries publications.

Kat Snodgrass | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sfn.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>