Recent Advances in Nicotinic Receptor Signaling in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations


Alcohol is the most commonly abused legal substance and alcoholism is a serious public health problem. It is a leading cause of preventable death in the world. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of alcohol reward and addiction are still not well understood. Emerging evidence indicates that unlike other drugs of abuse, such as nicotine, cocaine, or opioids, alcohol targets numerous channel proteins, receptor molecules, and signaling pathways in the brain. Previously, research has identified brain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), a heterogeneous family of pentameric ligand-gated cation channels expressed in the mammalian brain, as critical molecular targets for alcohol abuse and dependence. Genetic variations encoding nAChR subunits have been shown to increase the vulnerability to develop alcohol dependence. Here, we review recent insights into the rewarding effects of alcohol, as they pertain to different nAChR subtypes, associated signaling molecules, and pathways that contribute to the molecular mechanisms of alcoholism and/or comorbid brain disorders. Understanding these cellular changes and molecular underpinnings may be useful for the advancement of brain nicotinic-cholinergic mechanisms, and will lead to a better translational and therapeutic outcome for alcoholism and/or comorbid conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Molecular Basis of Drug Addiction, 2016
EditorsShafiqur Rahman
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780128037867
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Publication series

NameProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
ISSN (Print)1877-1173
ISSN (Electronic)1878-0814


  • alcohol dependence
  • alcoholism
  • drug addiction
  • drug targets
  • molecular mechanisms
  • nicotinic receptor
  • translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology

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