Inhibition of monoamine oxidases desensitizes 5-HT1A autoreceptors and allows nicotine to induce a neurochemical and behavioral sensitization

J Neurosci. 2009 Jan 28;29(4):987-97. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3315-08.2009.


Although nicotine is generally considered to be the main compound responsible for addictive properties of tobacco, experimental data indicate that nicotine does not exhibit all the characteristics of other substances of abuse. We recently showed that a pretreatment with mixed irreversible monoamine oxidases inhibitors (MAOIs), such as tranylcypromine, triggers a locomotor response to nicotine in mice and allows maintenance of behavioral sensitization to nicotine in rats. Moreover, we showed by microdialysis in mice that behavioral sensitization induced by compounds belonging to main groups of drugs of abuse, such as amphetamine, cocaine, morphine, or alcohol, was underlain by sensitization of noradrenergic and serotonergic neurons. Here, this neurochemical sensitization was tested after nicotine, tranylcypromine, or a mixture of both compounds. Data indicate that, whereas neither repeated nicotine nor repeated tranylcypromine alone has any effect by itself, a repeated treatment with a mixture of nicotine and tranylcypromine induces both behavioral sensitization and sensitization of noradrenergic and serotonergic neurons. The development of neurochemical and behavioral sensitizations is blocked by prazosin and SR46349B [(1Z,2E)-1-(2-fluoro-phenyl)-3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-prop-2-en-one-O-(2-dimethylamino-ethyl)-oxime hemifumarate], two antagonists of alpha1b-adrenergic and 5-HT(2A) receptors, respectively, but not by SCH23390 [R(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-3-benzazepine hydrochloride], a D(1) receptor antagonist. Finally, we found that pretreatments with WAY 100635 [N-[2-[4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-N-(2-pyridinyl)cyclo-hexane carboxamide trihydrochloride], a 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist, can also induce a behavioral and neurochemical sensitization to repeated nicotine. Complementary experiments with 8-OHDPAT (8-hydroxy-dipropylamino-tetralin), a 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist, and analysis of 5-HT(1A) receptors expression in the dorsal raphe nucleus after a tranylcypromine injection indicate that MAOIs contained in tobacco desensitize 5-HT(1A) autoreceptors to trigger the strong addictive properties of tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Autoreceptors / metabolism
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Fluorobenzenes / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Prazosin / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Raphe Nuclei / drug effects
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Tranylcypromine / pharmacology


  • Autoreceptors
  • Drug Combinations
  • Fluorobenzenes
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Phenols
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridines
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A
  • SR 46349B
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Nicotine
  • N-(2-(4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl)ethyl)-N-(2-pyridinyl)cyclohexanecarboxamide
  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin
  • Monoamine Oxidase
  • Prazosin