Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: involvement in Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

Diana S. Woodruff-Pak, Thomas J. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) play a role in a variety of diseases of the central nervous system including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and schizophrenia. There is great interest in evaluating disease-related nA ChR changes, and pharmacological treatment of nAChR deficits is a promising therapy. In AD, 7 nAChRs remain relatively stable, contrasting to 4 2 nAChRs that are lost in substantial numbers. -amyloid, a major neuropathology in AD, blocks 4 2 and 7 nAChRs. Agonists selective to 7nAChRs are neuroprotective against--amyloid. Paradoxically, 7nAChRs may function as receptors for -amyloid. These results indicate 7 nAChR antagonists may be appropriate therapy in AD. In schizophrenia, 7 nAChRs are significantly reduced in hippocampus and neocortex. The exceptionally high rate of smoking in schizophrenics is likely a form of self-medication. Therapy with 7 nAChR agonists relieves some schizophrenic symptoms. Despite disparities in etiology and symptomatology, AD and schizophrenia share a target for therapeutic intervention--7 nAChRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalBehavioral and cognitive neuroscience reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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