Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

At the root of nicotine addiction

EU researchers have studied the nicotine receptors in human adrenal glands, which will help us to understand nicotine addiction and related afflictions.
At the root of nicotine addiction
Recent research has identified the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in chromaffin cells. These cells, located in the adrenal gland, are responsible for secreting adrenaline and other hormones in response to signals from the brain.

Very little is known about these nAChRs, despite their important interaction with nicotine – a common and addictive substance. The EU-funded NRHACC (Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in human adrenal chromaffin cells) initiative addressed this by studying the nAChRs present in human and mammalian chromaffin cells.

Specifically, researchers wanted to characterise the nAChR subtypes found in the adrenal gland and study their interactions with nicotine. Another goal was to understand how other cellular systems control nAChR activity.

NRHACC's main success was finding the most common nAChR subtype in humans, cows and rats. The project also identified for the first time all other nAChR subtypes that could be found in chromaffin cells.

Researchers also investigated the effects of nicotine and drugs to treat nicotine addiction on these receptors. From this work, they found that both activate nAChRs in chromaffin cells, and in some instances this activation may lead to the release of adrenaline.

This research has improved scientists' understanding of nicotine's influence on the human brain and may help to develop new drugs to treat nicotine addiction.

Related information


Nicotine, addiction, adrenal glands, nAChR, chromaffin cells, NRHACC
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