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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2013 Jun;12(6):1553-62. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M112.024828. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Chronic nicotine treatment impacts the regulation of opioid and non-opioid peptides in the rat dorsal striatum.

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Visual Cognition Laboratory, Department of Medicine, University of Fribourg, Chemin de Musee 5, Fribourg CH-1700, Switzerland.


The chronic use of nicotine, the main psychoactive ingredient of tobacco smoking, alters diverse physiological processes and consequently generates physical dependence. To understand the impact of chronic nicotine on neuropeptides, which are potential molecules associated with dependence, we conducted qualitative and quantitative neuropeptidomics on the rat dorsal striatum, an important brain region implicated in the preoccupation/craving phase of drug dependence. We used extensive LC-FT-MS/MS analyses for neuropeptide identification and LC-FT-MS in conjunction with stable isotope addition for relative quantification. The treatment with chronic nicotine for 3 months led to moderate changes in the levels of endogenous dorsal striatum peptides. Five enkephalin opioid peptides were up-regulated, although no change was observed for dynorphin peptides. Specially, nicotine altered levels of nine non-opioid peptides derived from precursors, including somatostatin and cerebellin, which potentially modulate neurotransmitter release and energy metabolism. This broad but selective impact on the multiple peptidergic systems suggests that apart from the opioid peptides, several other peptidergic systems are involved in the preoccupation/craving phase of drug dependence. Our finding permits future evaluation of the neurochemical circuits modulated by chronic nicotine exposure and provides a number of novel molecules that could serve as potential therapeutic targets for treating drug dependence.

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