Protein profiling in the habenula after chronic (-)-menthol exposure in mice

J Neurochem. 2021 Sep;158(6):1345-1358. doi: 10.1111/jnc.15495. Epub 2021 Sep 2.


The identification of proteins that are altered following nicotine/tobacco exposure can facilitate and positively impact the investigation of related diseases. In this report, we investigated the effects of chronic (-)-menthol exposure in 14 murine brain regions for changes in total β2 subunit protein levels and changes in epibatidine binding levels using immunoblotting and radioligand binding assays. We identified the habenula as a region of interest due to the region's marked decreases in β2 subunit and nAChR levels in response to chronic (-)-menthol alone. Thus, we further examined the habenula, a brain region associated with both the reward and withdrawal components of addiction, for additional protein level alterations using mass spectrometry. A total of 552 proteins with altered levels were identified after chronic (-)-menthol exposure. Enriched in the proteins with altered levels after (-)-menthol exposure were proteins associated with signaling, immune systems, RNA regulation, and protein transport. The continuation and expansion of the brain region-specific protein profiling in response to (-)-menthol will provide a better understanding of how this common flavorant in tobacco and e-liquid products may affect addiction and general health.

Keywords: addiction; immunoblotting; mass spectrometry; menthol; nicotine; radioligand binding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Habenula / drug effects*
  • Habenula / metabolism*
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable*
  • Male
  • Menthol / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Proteogenomics / methods*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • nicotinic receptor beta2
  • Menthol