The cholinergic mesopontine tegmentum is a relatively neglected nicotinic master modulator of the dopaminergic system: relevance to drugs of abuse and pathology

Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Mar;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S438-45. doi: 10.1038/bjp.2008.5. Epub 2008 Jan 28.


The mammalian mesopontine tegmentum (MPT) contains two cholinergic nuclei, the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg) and the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (LDTg). These provide the cholinergic innervation of, among other brain areas, the dopaminergic A9 and A10 cell groups. Their axons are thus the source of endogenous acetylcholine (ACh) acting on somato-dendritic acetylcholine receptors in the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA). The anatomy, physiology, functional and pathological implications of these interactions with the nicotinic subtype of acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are discussed with a view of the important role of the MPT as a master regulator of nicotinic dopaminergic signalling in the brain, including for nicotine addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / pathology
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / pathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / pathology
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / ultrastructure


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Dopamine