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Neurosci Lett. 2008 Jan 3;430(1):34-7. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

Smoking upregulates alpha4beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the human brain.

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Department of Neurology, University Bonn, Sigmund Freud Strasse 25, 53105 Bonn, Germany.


The role of the alpha4beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in tobacco addiction in humans is largely unresolved. We visualized brain alpha4beta2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of smokers and non-smokers with positron emission tomography using 2-[(18)F]fluoro-3-(2(S)azetidinylmethoxy)pyridine, commonly known as 2-[(18)F]F-A-85380. The total brain distribution volume of 2-[(18)F]F-A-85380 was significantly increased in smokers. Statistical parametric mapping revealed that the most prominent regional differences of distribution volumes (DV) were found in cerebellum and brainstem with an increased uptake in smokers. The up-regulation of alpha4beta2* nAChR upon chronic nicotine exposure via tobacco smoking incorporates subcortical brain regions which may play an important role in nicotine addiction.

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