[Role of smoking and nicotine in neuropsychiatric disorders: evidence for therapeutic role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors]

Hisatsugu Miyata
Japanese Journal of Psychopharmacology 2008, 28 (4): 149-58
The role of smoking and nicotine in various neuropsychiatric disorders has been attracting increasing attention. Recently, investigations into the neurobiological properties of brain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have led to an improved understanding of their role in the above disorders, alpha4beta2 and alpha7 subunit containing nAChRs are predominantly identified in the brain among all types of nAChRs composed of nine alpha (alpha2 to alpha10) and three beta (beta2 to beta4) subunits. These receptors play important roles in attention, memory, and cognition and participate in the pathogenesis of several neuropsychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders, Tourette's syndrome, and autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy). For the majority of these disorders, the use of nAChRs agonists may represent either a prophylactic (especially for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases) or a symptomatic treatment. The possible mechanisms underlying these beneficial effects as well as the characteristics and potential therapeutic use of new, subtype-selective nAChRs agonists are presented.

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