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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2008 Jan;9(1):47-56.

Selective nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists: potential therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders with cognitive dysfunction.

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  • 1Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Cognitive impairment is one of the most functionally debilitating aspects of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, despite treatment with available pharmacotherapies. There is emerging evidence that nicotine improves cognitive function in humans and nonhuman species and this has sparked interest in the development of novel nicotinic treatments for cognitive dysfunction. The examination of selective alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonists suggests that both receptor subtypes mediate improvement in attention, learning and working memory. When compared with available pharmacotherapies, specific nAChR agonists may represent unique targets for the treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders that feature cognitive impairment as a key symptom.

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