New Insights on Neuronal Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors as Targets for Pain and Inflammation: A Focus on α7 nAChRs

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2018;16(4):415-425. doi: 10.2174/1570159X15666170818102108.


Background: Nicotine and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have been explored for the past three decades as targets for pain control. The aim of this review is to introduce readers particularly to α7 nAChRs in a perspective of pain and its modulation.

Methods: Developments for α7 nAChR modulators and recent animal studies related to pain are reviewed.

Results: Accumulating evidences suggest that selective ligands for α7 nAChRs hold promise in the treatment of chronic pain conditions as they lack many of side effects associated with other nicotinic receptor types.

Conclusion: This review provides the reader recent insights on α7 nAChRs from structure and function to the latest findings on the pharmacology and therapeutic targeting of these receptors for the treatment of pain and inflammation.

Keywords: agonists; anti-inflammatory; inflammation; modulators; nicotine; pain; α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cholinergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cholinergic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cholinergic Agents
  • Receptors, Nicotinic