Recent Advances in Nicotinic Receptor Signaling in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Shafiqur Rahman, Eric Engleman, Richard Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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)
JournalProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2015

Fingerprint

Nicotinic Receptors
Alcoholism
Alcohols
Brain
Ligand-Gated Ion Channels
Brain Diseases
Street Drugs
Nicotine
Reward
Cocaine
Cholinergic Agents
Opioid Analgesics
Cations
Cause of Death
Public Health
Research
Proteins

Keywords

  • Alcohol dependence
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug addiction
  • Drug targets
  • Molecular mechanisms
  • Nicotinic receptor
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine

Cite this

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