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Annu Rev Med. 2014;65:245-61. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-092112-142937. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists for cognitive enhancement in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado 80045; email:


α7-Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors have emerged as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of neurocognitive dysfunctions in schizophrenia that are often resistant to existing antipsychotic drugs. Molecular evidence for involvement in schizophrenia of CHRNA7, the gene for the receptor subunit, in the neurobiology of deficits in attention is a critical rationale for the clinical study of α7-nicotinic receptor agonists to improve neurocognition. Initial clinical trials show enhancement of inhibitory neuron function related to sensory gating and increased attention and working memory, as well as improvement in negative symptoms such as anhedonia and alogia. Further development of this therapeutic strategy requires assessment of interactions with patients' heavy cigarette smoking and the relationship of this mechanism to the therapeutic effects of clozapine and olanzapine, both highly effective therapeutics with significant side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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