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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Jul 1;32(5):1131-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2007.12.012. Epub 2007 Dec 23.

Tobacco/nicotine and endogenous brain opioids.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5632, USA.


Smoking is a major public health problem with devastating health consequences. Although many cigarette smokers are able to quit, equal numbers of others cannot! Standard medications to assist in smoking cessation, such as nicotine replacement therapies and bupropion, are ineffective in many remaining smokers. Recent developments in the neurobiology of nicotine dependence have identified several neurotransmitter systems that may contribute to the process of smoking maintenance and relapse. These include: especially dopamine, but also norepinephrine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, acetylcholine, endogenous opioids, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and endocannabinoids. The present review examines the limited contribution of the endogenous opioid system to the complex effects of nicotine/tobacco smoking.

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