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Mol Pharmacol. 2015 Aug;88(2):256-64. doi: 10.1124/mol.115.098285. Epub 2015 May 11.

Menthol Enhances the Desensitization of Human α3β4 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia.
2
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Georgetown University, Washington, District of Columbia gpa3@georgetown.edu kellark@georgetown.edu.

Abstract

The α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtype is widely expressed in the peripheral and central nervous systems, including in airway sensory nerves. The nAChR subtype transduces the irritant effects of nicotine in tobacco smoke and, in certain brain areas, may be involved in nicotine addiction and/or withdrawal. Menthol, a widely used additive in cigarettes, is a potential analgesic and/or counterirritant at sensory nerves and may also influence nicotine's actions in the brain. We examined menthol's effects on recombinant human α3β4 nAChRs and native nAChRs in mouse sensory neurons. Menthol markedly decreased nAChR activity as assessed by Ca(2+) imaging, (86)Rb(+) efflux, and voltage-clamp measurements. Coapplication of menthol with acetylcholine or nicotine increased desensitization, demonstrated by an increase in the rate and magnitude of the current decay and a reduction of the current integral. These effects increased with agonist concentration. Pretreatment with menthol followed by its washout did not affect agonist-induced desensitization, suggesting that menthol must be present during the application of agonist to augment desensitization. Notably, menthol acted in a voltage-independent manner and reduced the mean open time of single channels without affecting their conductance, arguing against a simple channel-blocking effect. Further, menthol slowed or prevented the recovery of nAChRs from desensitization, indicating that it probably stabilizes a desensitized state. Moreover, menthol at concentrations up to 1 mM did not compete for the orthosteric nAChR binding site labeled by [(3)H]epibatidine. Taken together, these data indicate that menthol promotes desensitization of α3β4 nAChRs by an allosteric action.

PMID:
25964258
PMCID:
PMC4518085
DOI:
10.1124/mol.115.098285
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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