Author(s): De Biasi M, Dani JA
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Abstract Nicotine is the principal addictive component that drives continued tobacco use despite users' knowledge of the harmful consequences. The initiation of addiction involves the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, which contributes to the processing of rewarding sensory stimuli during the overall shaping of successful behaviors. Acting mainly through nicotinic receptors containing the α4 and β2 subunits, often in combination with the α6 subunit, nicotine increases the firing rate and the phasic bursts by midbrain dopamine neurons. Neuroadaptations arise during chronic exposure to nicotine, producing an altered brain condition that requires the continued presence of nicotine to be maintained. When nicotine is removed, a withdrawal syndrome develops. The expression of somatic withdrawal symptoms depends mainly on the α5, α2, and β4 (and likely α3) nicotinic subunits involving the epithalamic habenular complex and its targets. Thus, nicotine taps into diverse neural systems and an array of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes to influence reward, addiction, and withdrawal.
This article was published in Annu Rev Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy