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J Neurochem. 1991 Dec;57(6):2070-7.

Activation of tyrosine hydroxylase by nicotine in rat adrenal gland.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York 14642.


The administration of nicotine activates tyrosine hydroxylase in the rat adrenal gland. This activation is apparently maximal 25 min after a single subcutaneous injection of nicotine at 2.3 mg/kg. Repeated injections of nicotine (seven injections once every 30 min) are associated with a persistent activation of adrenal tyrosine hydroxylase for at least 3 h. The nicotinic receptor antagonist hexamethonium does not significantly inhibit the nicotine-mediated activation of tyrosine hydroxylase in innervated adrenal glands. However, hexamethonium completely blocks the activation of adrenal tyrosine hydroxylase by nicotine in denervated adrenal glands. Furthermore, even though a single injection of nicotine activates tyrosine hydroxylase in both innervated and denervated adrenal glands, repeated injections of nicotine do not activate tyrosine hydroxylase in denervated adrenal glands. Our results suggest that the systemic administration of nicotine activates adrenal tyrosine hydroxylase by two mechanisms: (1) via direct interaction with adrenal chromaffin cell nicotinic receptors; and (2) via stimulation of the CNS leading to the release from the splanchnic nerve of substances that interact with adrenal chromaffin cell receptors other than the nicotinic receptor.

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