Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why nicotine in cigarettes can relieve anxiety in smokers

Date:
November 8, 2012
Source:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Summary:
Preclinical data suggests inactivation of a specific sub-class of nicotinic receptors may be an effective strategy to help smokers quit without feeling anxious, according to researchers.

This image illustrates how nicotine in cigarette smoke may reduce anxiety by blocking the activity of the high affinity beta2 subunit containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
Credit: Image courtesy of Darlene Brunzell, Ph.D./VCU

Preclinical data suggests inactivation of a specific sub-class of nicotinic receptors may be an effective strategy to help smokers quit without feeling anxious, according to Virginia Commonwealth University researchers.

These findings could one day point researchers to the development of novel therapies to help smokers quit without feeling anxious.

Smokers use cigarettes for many reasons, but many report that they smoke to relieve anxiety, despite the health danger of cigarette smoking. Researchers are now working to understand the underlying neurochemical pathways that support smoking behavior.

In a study, published online this week in PLoS ONE, researchers observed that low doses of nicotine and a nicotinic receptor blocker had similar effects to reduce anxiety-like behavior in an animal model. They found that inactivation of beta2 subunit, a specific sub-class of nicotinic receptors that bind nicotine, appears to reduce anxiety. This is different from the mechanism that regulates nicotine reward and likely occurs in a separate brain area.

"This work is unique because it suggests that nicotine may be acting through inactivation, rather than activation, of the high affinity nicotinic receptors," said Darlene Brunzell, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the VCU School of Medicine.

"Nicotine acts like a key that unlocks nicotine receptors in the brain. Usually that key opens the receptor, but at other times nicotine is like a key that has gotten broken inside of the lock. Our findings suggest that low-dose nicotine may block a specific subtype of receptor from opening that is important for regulating anxiety behavior," she said, adding that anxiety is a major reason why people relapse to smoking.

Brunzell and colleagues are conducting ongoing studies that they hope will help to identify which brain areas regulate the anxiolytic effects of nicotine. Using genetic strategies, they are attempting to determine the specific molecular make-up of the nicotinic receptors that regulate anxiety.

According to Brunzell, from a therapeutic perspective it will be important to discover if blocking beta2 subunit containing nicotinic receptors relieves anxiety in smokers.

"Understanding what other subunits combine with beta2 to form the critical receptors that regulate anxiety could lead to selective therapeutics with fewer side effects," she said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Shawn M. Anderson, Darlene H. Brunzell. Low Dose Nicotine and Antagonism of β2 Subunit Containing Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Have Similar Effects on Affective Behavior in Mice. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e48665 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048665

Cite This Page:

Virginia Commonwealth University. "Why nicotine in cigarettes can relieve anxiety in smokers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108181723.htm>.
Virginia Commonwealth University. (2012, November 8). Why nicotine in cigarettes can relieve anxiety in smokers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108181723.htm
Virginia Commonwealth University. "Why nicotine in cigarettes can relieve anxiety in smokers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121108181723.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. 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:
from the past week

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