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Curr Med Res Opin. 2004 Jul;20(7):1057-74.

Nicotinic receptors and schizophrenia.

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Neurobiology of Anxiety and Depression Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Nantes, France.


The incidence of smoking is very high in non-schizophrenic subjects presenting various psychiatric disorders (35 to 54%). However, the incidence of smoking is extremely high in schizophrenic patients: 80% to 90%, versus 25% to 30% of the general population. Various studies have demonstrated that the use of tobacco transiently restores the schizophrenic patient's cognitive and sensory deficits. Smoking cessation also appears to exacerbate the symptoms of the disease. Post-mortem binding studies have revealed a disturbance of nicotinic receptor expression, affecting the alpha(7) and alpha(4)beta(2) subunits, in various cerebral areas. Genetic linkage studies have also shown that the alpha(7) subunit is involved in schizophrenia. This review assesses the involvement of the nicotinic system in schizophrenia and suggests ways in which this system may participate in the pathophysiology of this disease.

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