Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroscience. 2001;105(3):527-34.

Nicotine-induced alterations in the expression of nicotinic receptors in primary cultures from human prenatal brain.

Author information

Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


The nicotinic receptor proteins and gene transcripts for the different nicotinic receptor subunits exist in human prenatal brain already at 4-5 weeks of gestation. The early presence of nicotinic receptors suggests an important role for these receptors in modulating dendritic outgrowth, establishment of neuronal connections and synaptogenesis during development. When measurements of nicotinic receptors using [(3)H]epibatidine (labelling both the alpha3 and alpha4 subtype) and [(3)H]cytisine (labelling the alpha4 subtype) were performed in intact cells from the cortex, subcortical forebrain and mesencephalon (7.5-11 weeks of gestation), the highest specific binding for both ligands was detected in cells from mesencephalon, followed by subcortical forebrain and cortex. The effects of nicotine exposure were studied in primary cultures of prenatal brain (7.5-11 weeks of gestation). Treatment with nicotine (1-100 microM) for 3 days significantly increased the specific binding of [(3)H]epibatidine and [(3)H]cytisine in cortical cells but not in cells from subcortical forebrain and mesencephalon brain regions, indicating region-specific differences in the sensitivity to nicotine exposure. Relative quantification of mRNA showed that the expression of the nicotinic receptor subunits alpha3 and alpha7, but not alpha4, was increased in cortical cells after nicotine treatment. These findings support the assumption of a potential risk of disturbance in the functional role of nicotinic receptors during brain development as a consequence of maternal smoking during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center