Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nicotine Activates More Than Just The Brain's Pleasure Pathways

Date:
January 23, 2009
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers have discovered there are differing taste pathways for nicotine, which could provide a new approach for future smoking-cessation products.

Duke University Medical System researchers have discovered there are differing taste pathways for nicotine, which could provide a new approach for future smoking-cessation products.

Related Articles


"We learned some of nicotine's secrets," said Albino Oliveira-Maia, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow of the Duke Department of Neurobiology. "This is the first study to explore both the peripheral taste pathways activated by nicotine, and how these pathways are integrated in sensory areas of the brain." The peripheral nervous system refers to nerves that are outside of the brain and spinal cord.

Using genetic engineering and measurements of nervous system activity in mice, the researchers found that nicotine sends signals directly to the brain's sensory systems by several pathways, similar to the way taste is perceived.

These findings complement what is known about the effects of nicotine in the dopamine pathway. This is the classic pleasure pathway in the brain, much studied by addiction experts. "Our study in no way contradicts prior findings about nicotine and dopamine," Oliveira-Maia said. "Our findings add to what is known and suggest new approaches for further study."

The findings appeared in the PNAS Early Edition slated for January 19.

"One reason that our findings are interesting is because they relate to previous work that looked at humans with lesions in the insula region of the brain – they had an easier time giving up cigarettes than most people," Oliveira-Maia said. "We found that a part of the insula, the gustatory cortex, has robust responses to nicotine and a capacity to integrate diverse peripheral information to create a unique sensory representation for nicotine."

One taste pathway the Duke researchers uncovered involves nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR), which scientists previously proposed were taste receptors for nicotine. The researchers found a previously unknown link between these receptors and activity in the taste region of the insula.

They then found a second pathway, the peripheral Trpm5 protein pathway – one that helps animals sense a bitter taste. Mice which had their Trpm5 pathway deleted were unresponsive to several different tastes, including bitterness, but they could still sense the presence of nicotine. "The mice preferred plain water to the nicotine solution, suggesting that there would be a second taste pathway in play, besides the one that had been knocked out," Oliveira-Maia said. The researchers then measured nerve activity in the chorda tympani (CT), which is a branch of the facial nerve that serves the taste buds in the front of the tongue and found that activity in CT nerve fibers increased when nicotine was put on the mice's tongues.

Looking ahead, Oliveira-Maia said that drugs thath block the nAChR receptors are now being used in the treatment of tobacco addiction, mainly because of their effects on the central nervous system, "but it is possible they could also modify the sensory effects of cigarette smoke."

This work was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health, Philip Morris USA, Philip Morris International and a GABBA fellowship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Nicotine Activates More Than Just The Brain's Pleasure Pathways." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122152707.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2009, January 23). Nicotine Activates More Than Just The Brain's Pleasure Pathways. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122152707.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Nicotine Activates More Than Just The Brain's Pleasure Pathways." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122152707.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins