Nicotinic receptor contributions to smoking: insights from human studies and animal models

Curr Addict Rep. 2015 Mar;2(1):33-46. doi: 10.1007/s40429-015-0042-2.


It is becoming increasingly evident that a variety of factors contribute to smoking behavior. Nicotine is a constituent of tobacco smoke that exerts its psychoactive effects via binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in brain. Human genetic studies have identified polymorphisms in nAChR genes, which predict vulnerability to risk for tobacco dependence. In vitro studies and animal models have identified the functional relevance of specific polymorphisms. Together with animal behavioral models, which parse behaviors believed to contribute to tobacco use in humans, these studies demonstrate that nicotine action at a diversity of nAChRs is important for expression of independent behavioral phenotypes, which support smoking behavior.

Keywords: acetylcholine; addiction; cholinergic; e-cigarettes; nicotine; tobacco.