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Region of brain responsible for nicotine withdrawal symptoms identified

RATE THIS! +48
Posted in Medicine on 16th Nov, 2013 08:20 PM by AlexMuller

Headaches, anxiety, irritability—these and other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can significantly deter smokers from being able to kick the habit.

 

Now, in what may be a significant step toward alleviating those symptoms, UMass Medical School neuroscientist Andrew R. Tapper, PhD, and colleagues have identified the region of the brain in which they originate.

 
“We were surprised to find that one population of neurons within a single brain region could actually control physical nicotine withdrawal behaviors,” said Dr. Tapper, associate professor of psychiatry and interim director of the Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute at UMMS.
 
The Tapper lab discovered that physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms are triggered by activation of GABAergic neurons (neurons that secrete GABA, the brain’s predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter), in the interpeduncular nucleus, an area deep in the midbrain that has recently been shown to be involved in nicotine intake. Their study was published in the Nov. 14 issue of the journal Current Biology.
 
“Most of the work in the field has been focused on the immediate effects of nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco smoke, on reward circuits in the brain,” Tapper explained. “But much less is known regarding what happens when you take nicotine away from someone who has been smoking for a long time that causes all these terrible withdrawal symptoms. Our main goal was to understand what brain regions are activated—or deactivated—to cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
 
They did this through a series of experiments performed in mouse models with sophisticated neurochemistry and brain imaging methods, including recently developed optogenetics techniques in which specific neurons can be activated by light.
 
Most surprising was their discovery that nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be activated or deactivated independent of nicotine addiction. “When we activated the GABAergic neurons in the interpeduncular nucleus, mice suffered withdrawal symptoms even if they had no previous nicotine exposure,” Tapper noted.
 
These findings are promising because existing treatments intended to help people quit smoking are not always effective. “There are very few treatments to help people quit smoking,” Tapper said. “If you can dampen the activity of this brain region chemically during nicotine withdrawal then you would hopefully be able to help someone quit smoking because you could reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms that they are experiencing.”

Tags: brainnicotineneuroscienceaddictionsmoking

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+2
Promising work, hopefully this should lead to treatments that will make it much easier to quit
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+1
Yes, smoking is such a big issue. Look at the statistics: tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing 22% of global cancer deaths and 71% of global lung cancer deaths Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+1
This seems a very significant and surprising finding. One concern with changing some parts of the brain is that consequences can be many and not easily predictable - this is suggesting that regions could be very specific for a particular function Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
There are already so many ways to help people quit smoking and it seems the results were not as good as expected - this work could help to deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and could make a difference Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
One effective way to help people quit smoking are restrictions on places where this is allowed. Ban also marks this habit as socially unacceptable Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+1
The main difficulty is that brain changes as a consequence of addition
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
This is a good model of addiction that scientist consider - the "brain disease" model of addiction. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+1
We now know so much about nicotine and how brain responds to it and why addiction happens. All down to a molecular level. But struggle with smoking remains difficult
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
Well organised campaigns, whatever the method to quit smoking, are critical to make this effective - and there are so many in the UK
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
In England, smokers are encouraged to collect a free Quit Kit from their local pharmacy to help support their quit attempt. Pharmacies are being encouraged to start spreading the word about it.
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
Alongside the campaign, smokers are able to pick up the new NHS Quit Cards. The pack of cards signpost smokers to the range of support available. Reply
Reply
Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-17
+0
There is a lot research ongoing and one featured here is a great example that big findings are reported. Also there are many measures to reduce smoking and campaigns. With the momentum increasing, this problem should be solved Reply


 

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