The chemical nicotine--a main ingredient in tobacco--may hold promise in the early diagnosis of Alzheimers disease, give insight into therapeutic interventions for nicotine addiction and possibly complement the diagnosis of certain forms of lung cancer, according to a study in the January issue of the Society of Nuclear Medicines Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
Researchers are examining nicotines cognitive, behavioral and addictive actions, and, by looking at targets in the brain where nicotine acts, researchers hope to address several major health problems, said SNM member Jogeshwar Mukherjee, Ph.D., associate professor in residence at the department of psychiatry and human behavior, Brain Imaging Center, at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). A team of researchers from UCI and the Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, found that imaging studies with a new fluorine-18 labeled imaging agent, nifrolidine, complement other ongoing positron emission tomography (PET) studies currently underway with nicotine-like PET imaging agents.
Nifrolidine was developed to specifically bind to a receptor (protein) that is present in the human and nonhuman brain; this receptor is involved in several brain functions, particularly cognition and certain aspects of learning and memory, according to Mukherjee. By binding at the same place as nicotine, nifrolidine helps to measure how and where nicotine acts. PET studies can be performed with nifrolidine to provide information on the receptor present in various regions of the brain. "Research has shown that with Alzheimers disease there is a gradual loss of these receptors; therefore, there is a potential of early diagnostic value in nifrolidine-PET imaging," he said.
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