Evidence that tobacco smoking increases the density of (-)-[3H]nicotine binding sites in human brain

J Neurochem. 1988 Apr;50(4):1243-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1988.tb10600.x.


In a postmortem study of nicotinic receptors in human brain, cigarette smoking was found to be associated with increased (-)-[3H]nicotine binding to membranes prepared from gyrus rectus (Brodmann area 11) (p less than 0.001), hippocampal neocortex (Brodmann area 27), cerebellar cortex (p less than 0.01), hippocampal formation (Ammon's horn + subiculum), and the median raphe nuclei of the midbrain (p less than 0.05) but not the medulla oblongata. Analysis of the binding data suggested that the increased binding reflected an increase in the density of the receptors rather than a change in their affinity for (-)-nicotine. The effects of smoking were not influenced significantly by either the sex or age of the subject. It is concluded that smoking evokes an increase in high-affinity nicotine binding similar to that observed previously in animals treated chronically with nicotine and that the effect of smoking on these sites is probably caused by the nicotine present in the tobacco smoke.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cerebellar Cortex / metabolism
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / metabolism
  • Raphe Nuclei / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Smoking / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Nicotine