A person’s vulnerability to nicotine addiction appears to have a genetic basis, at least in part.
A region in the midbrain called the habenula (from Latin: small reins) plays a key role in this process, as Dr. Inés Ibañez-Tallon and her team from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have now shown. They also shed light on the mechanism that underlies addiction to nicotine (Neuron, May,12, 2011, Vol. 70, Issue 3, pp: 522-535; DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.04.013)*.
According to the World Health Organization WHO in Geneva, it is estimated that tobacco use kills more than five million people each year worldwide. Many of them die of lung cancer. “Two years ago, studies indicated that genetic variations in a specific gene cluster are risk factors for nicotine dependence and lung cancer,” Dr. Ibañez-Tallon pointed out. She and her team, together with researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France and the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, have now elucidated the mechanism underlying this dependence.
They investigated a specific receptor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is activated by nicotine in smokers and is encoded by this specific gene cluster, consisting of three subunits, that is three genes. “Although this gene cluster is present in the DNA of every cell, the receptor is only expressed in a few restricted areas of the brain. One of them is the habenula in the midbrain,” Dr. Ibañez-Tallon explained.
The MDC researchers investigated this receptor and its subunits in egg cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) and in transgenic mice. One of the three genes of the cluster is alpha5. “An important percentage of heavy smokers carry a single mutation in this gene. They are more prone to become addicted to nicotine and to develop lung cancer than individuals without this mutation,” Dr. Ibañez-Tallon said.Strong Aversion to Nicotine
However, when the researchers expressed the mutated variant of the alpha5 gene via a lentivirus in the habenular brain region of these mice, after only two weeks the mice showed a preference for nicotine. Dr. Ibañez-Tallon and her colleagues conclude that only a balanced activity of these two genes can rein in nicotine use.*Aversion to Nicotine Is Regulated by the Balanced Activity of b4 and a5 Nicotinic Receptor Subunits in the Medial Habenula
Barbara Bachtler | Max-Delbrück-Centrum
Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Life Sciences
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Process Engineering