Effect of chronic nicotine treatment on nicotinic autoreceptor function and N-[3H]methylcarbamylcholine binding sites in the rat brain

J Neurochem. 1989 Feb;52(2):483-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1989.tb09146.x.


It has been reported that N-methylcarbamylcholine (MCC), a nicotinic agonist, binds to central nicotinic receptors and causes an increase of acetylcholine (ACh) release from certain central cholinergic nerve terminals. The present experiments determine whether these two phenomena change in response to the chronic administration of nicotine, a procedure known to result in an increase in nicotinic binding sites. Chronic nicotine caused a brain region-specific up-regulation of [3H]MCC sites; binding increased in the frontal cortex, parietal cortex, striatum, and hippocampus, but not in the occipital cortex or cerebellum. The effect of nicotine was selective to nicotinic binding sites, because muscarinic sites, both M1 ([ 3H]pirenzepine) and M2 ([3H]ACh), were unaffected by chronic nicotine treatment. MCC increased the release of ACh from the frontal cortex and hippocampus by a calcium-dependent mechanism; MCC did not alter ACh release from striatum or occipital cortex of control animals. The MCC-induced increase in ACh release was not apparent in those animals which had been treated with nicotine. There was a partial recovery of nicotinic autoreceptor function when animals were allowed to recover (4 days) following chronic nicotine treatment, but the density of binding sites remained increased compared to control. Chronic nicotine did not change the potassium-evoked release of ACh from the frontal cortex or hippocampus, but decreased this measure from striatum. It also decreased the ACh content of the striatum, but not that of the cortex or the hippocampus; the activity of choline acetyltransferase was not altered in any of the regions tested.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Carbachol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carbachol / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Parietal Lobe / metabolism
  • Pirenzepine / metabolism
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology*


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • N-methylcarbamylcholine
  • Pirenzepine
  • Nicotine
  • Carbachol
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholine
  • Potassium
  • Calcium