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J Neurosci Res. 1990 Nov;27(3):349-59.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in human frontal cortex: changes in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield 62794-9230.


Molecular genetic and pharmacological studies have suggested that several subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors exist in the mammalian and avian brain. Combining 3H-(-)-nicotine, 125I-alpha-bungarotoxin, and 125I-kappa-bungarotoxin as ligands, we report here the first evidence for the existence in human frontal cortex of at least three different subtypes of nicotinic receptors. Autoradiographic analysis shows that specific 125I-kappa-bungarotoxin binding sites are concentrated mainly in several cortical layers. We also show that kappa-bungarotoxin, but not alpha-bungarotoxin decreases the evoked release of 3H-acetylcholine in rat cortical slices, indicating a likely presynaptic localization for some of the alpha-bungarotoxin-insensitive kappa-bungarotoxin sites in mammalian brain. The brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease show marked decreases in Bmax values for low-affinity 125I-kappa-bungarotoxin sites and both high- and low-affinity 3H-nicotine sites, whereas 125I-alpha-bungarotoxin sites are not significantly different in number from age-matched control brains. We conclude that Alzheimer's disease does not affect all subtypes of nicotinic receptors in the frontal cortex to the same extent.

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