Evidence from mouse and man for a role of neuregulin 3 in nicotine dependence

Department of Pharmacology, Translational Research Laboratories, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Molecular Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 15.15). 09/2013; 19(7). DOI: 10.1038/mp.2013.104
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Addiction to nicotine and the ability to quit smoking are influenced by genetic factors. We used functional genomic approaches (chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and whole-genome sequencing) to identify cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) targets following chronic nicotine administration and withdrawal (WD) in rodents. We found that chronic nicotine and WD differentially modulate CREB binding to the gene for neuregulin 3 (NRG3). Quantitative analysis of saline, nicotine and nicotine WD in two biological replicates corroborate this finding, with NRG3 increases in both mRNA and protein following WD from chronic nicotine treatment. To translate these data for human relevance, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across NRG3 were examined for association with prospective smoking cessation among smokers of European ancestry treated with transdermal nicotine in two independent cohorts. Individual SNP and haplotype analysis support the association of NRG3 SNPs and smoking cessation success. NRG3 is a neural-enriched member of the epidermal growth factor family, and a specific ligand for the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB4, which is also upregulated following nicotine treatment and WD. Mice with significantly reduced levels of NRG3 or pharmacological inhibition of ErbB4 show similar reductions in anxiety following nicotine WD compared with control animals, suggesting a role for NRG3 in nicotine dependence. Although the function of the SNP in NRG3 in humans is not known, these data suggest that Nrg3/ErbB4 signaling may be an important factor in nicotine dependence.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 3 September 2013; doi:10.1038/mp.2013.104.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While nicotine mediates its effects through several nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes, it remains to be determined which nAChR subtypes directly mediate heightened anxiety during withdrawal. Relative success in abstinence has been found with the nAChR partial agonist Varenicline (Chantix; Pfizer), however treatment with this drug fails to alleviate anxiety in individuals during nicotine withdrawal. Therefore, it is hypothesized that success can be found by the repurposing of other nAChR partial agonists for cessation therapies that target anxiety. Interestingly, the selective partial agonists for α4β2, ABT-089, and α7, ABT-107, (AbbVie) have not been evaluated as possible therapeutics for nicotine cessation. Therefore we examined the effect of ABT-089 and ABT-107 on anxiety during withdrawal from nicotine in the novelty-induced hypophagia (NIH) paradigm. We found that acute ABT-089 and ABT-107 alleviate anxiety-like behavior during withdrawal from nicotine while chronic ABT-089 but not chronic ABT-107 reduces anxiety-like behavior during withdrawal. Following behavioral testing, brains were harvested and beta2-containing nAChRs were measured using [3H]Epibaditine. ABT-089 and ABT-107 do not upregulate nAChRs, which is in contrast to the upregulation of nAChRs observed following nicotine. Furthermore, ABT-089 is anxiogenic in nicotine naive animals, suggesting that the effects on anxiety are specifically related to the nicotine-dependent state. Together, these studies identify additional nAChR partial agonists that may aid in the rational development of smoking cessation aids.
    Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 03/2014; 349(2). DOI:10.1124/jpet.113.211706 · 3.86 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Regular smoking is the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cancers, and thus is one of the most preventable causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Intake of nicotine, its central nervous system effects, and its metabolism are regulated by biological pathways; some of these are well known, but others are not. Genetic studies offer a method for developing insights into the genes contributing to those pathways. In recent years, large genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses have consistently revealed that the strongest genetic contribution to smoking-related traits comes from variation in the nicotinic receptor subunit genes. Many other genes, including those coding for enzymes involved in nicotine metabolism, also have been implicated. However, the proportion of phenotypic variance explained by the identified genetic variants is very modest. This review intends to cover progress made in genetics and genetic epidemiology of smoking behavior in recent years, and focuses on studies revealing the nicotinic receptor gene cluster on chromosome 15q25. Evidence supporting the involvement of a novel pathway in the shared pathophysiology of nicotine dependence and schizophrenia is also briefly reviewed. A summary of the current knowledge on gene–environment interactions involved in smoking behavior is included.
    03/2014; 1(1). DOI:10.1007/s40429-013-0006-3
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neuregulin 3 (NRG3), a specific ligand for ErbB4 and a neuronal-enriched neurotrophin is implicated in the genetic predisposition to a broad spectrum of neurodevelopmental, neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, autism and schizophrenia. Genetic studies in schizophrenia demonstrate that risk variants in NRG3 are associated with cognitive and psychotic symptom severity, accompanied by increased expression of prefrontal cortical NRG3. Despite our expanding knowledge of genetic involvement of NRG3 in neurological disorders, little is known about the neurodevelopmental mechanisms of risk. Here we exploited the fact that a paralog of NRG3, NRG1, readily penetrates the murine blood brain barrier (BBB). In this study we synthesized the bioactive epidermal growth factor (EGF) domain of NRG3, and using previously validated in-vivo peripheral injection methodologies in neonatal mice, demonstrate that NRG3 successfully crosses the BBB, where it activates its receptor ErbB4 and downstream Akt signaling at levels of bioactivity comparable to NRG1. To determine the impact of NRG3 overexpression during one critical developmental window, C57BL/6 male mice were subcutaneously injected daily with NRG1-EGF, NRG3-EGF or vehicle from postnatal days 2-10. Mice were tested in adulthood using a comprehensive battery of behavioral tasks relevant to neurocognitive and psychiatric disorders. In agreement with previous studies, developmental overexposure to NRG1 induced multiple non-CNS mediated peripheral effects as well as severely disrupting performance of prepulse inhibition of the startle response. In contrast, NRG3 had no effect on any peripheral measures investigated or sensorimotor gating. Specifically, developmental NRG3 overexposure produced an anxiogenic-like phenotype and deficits in social behavior in adulthood. These results provide primary data to support a role for NRG3 in brain development and function, which appears to be distinct from its paralog NRG1. Furthermore we demonstrate how perturbations in NRG3 expression at distinct developmental stages may contribute to the neurological deficits observed in brain disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
    PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e104172. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0104172 · 3.53 Impact Factor


Available from
May 31, 2014