Author(s): Corringer PJ, Sallette J, Changeux JP
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Nicotine addiction, the primary cause of tobacco consumption, is mediated through nicotine binding to brain nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChRs). Upon chronic exposure, nicotine elicits a cascade of events, starting with nAChR activation and desensitization, followed by a long term up-regulation that corresponds to an increase in the number of the high affinity nAChRs, a paradoxical process that occurs in the brain of smokers. Recent investigation of the maturation and trafficking of the major brain alpha4beta2 nAChR demonstrates that up-regulation is initiated in the endoplasmic reticulum soon after protein translation. The data thus far accumulated provide evidence that nicotine elicits up-regulation by promoting maturation of nAChR precursors that would otherwise be degraded. This "maturational enhancer" action of nicotine probably contributes to the long term effect of chronic nicotine, and suggests a novel mechanism of neuronal plasticity through an yet unknown endogenous substance which would modulate the receptor expression under physiological conditions.
This article was published in J Physiol Paris
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy