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Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;52(4):301-7. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.74303.

Biological basis of tobacco addiction: Implications for smoking-cessation treatment.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, G. B. Pant Hospital, Maulana Azad Medical College and University of Delhi, India.

Abstract

Tobacco use became common all over the world after discovery of Americas. Tobacco, a plant carries in its leaves an alkaloid called nicotine, which is responsible not only for several pathophysiological changes in the body but also develops tolerance to its own action with repeated use. Studies suggest that the alpha-4 beta-2 nicotine acetylcholine receptor subtype is the main receptor that mediates nicotine dependence. Nicotine acts on these receptors to facilitate neurotransmitter release (dopamine and others), producing pleasure and mood modulation. Repeated exposure to nicotine develops neuroadaptation of the receptors, resulting in tolerance to many of the effects of nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms appear on stoppage of tobacco use, which are characterized by irritability, anxiety, increased eating, dysphoria, and hedonic dysregulation, among others. Smoking is also reinforced by conditioning. Pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation should reduce withdrawal symptoms and block the reinforcing effects of nicotine obtained from smoking without causing excessive adverse effects.

KEYWORDS:

Acetylcholine receptors; addiction; dopamine; nicotine

PMID:
21267362
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3025154
Free PMC Article
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