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Nicotine Tob Res. 2010 May;12(5):535-9. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq040. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors modulate pain sensitivity in acutely abstinent tobacco smokers.

Author information

  • 1Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Department of Psychiatry, 116A6, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516, USA. kelly.cosgrove@yale.edu

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Nicotine and tobacco smoking administration have demonstrated antinociceptive effects that are mediated by the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor containing the beta2* subunit (beta(2)*-nAChR). In this study, we examined the relationship between beta(2)*-nAChR availability and nociception during acute withdrawal in human tobacco smokers using [(123)I]5-IA-85380 ([(123)I]5-IA) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain imaging.

METHODS:

Tobacco smokers (n = 24, aged 34 +/- 11 years) participated in the cold pressor task during acute withdrawal (up to 3 hr) and a second cold pressor task following 7-13 days of smoking abstinence on the day they were imaged with [(123)I]5-IA SPECT. The cold pressor task is used to measure pain sensitivity (when subjects first feel pain) and pain tolerance (when subjects cannot withstand pain).

RESULTS:

Following 7-13 days of tobacco smoking abstinence, increased pain sensitivity, for example, shorter time to first feel pain, was significantly associated with higher beta(2)*-nAChR availability in the thalamus (r = -.43), parietal (r = -.50), frontal (r = -.55), anterior cingulate (r = -.44), temporal (r = -.43), and occipital (r = -.48) cortices. The percent change in pain sensitivity from the first to second cold pressor task was significantly correlated with beta(2)*-nAChR availability in the thalamus (r = -.57), cerebellum (r = -.50), striatum (r = -.057), parietal (r = -.46), anterior cingulate (r = -.48), temporal (r = -.55), and occipital (r = -.57) cortices. Similar associations were not observed with pain tolerance.

DISCUSSION:

This suggests that beta(2)*-nAChRs play a role in pain sensitivity but not pain tolerance during tobacco smoking withdrawal. If individuals are more likely to relapse in response to painful stimuli, lower beta(2)*-nAChR availability during acute abstinence may be protective.

PMID:
20371741
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2861889
Free PMC Article
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