Biological processes underlying co-use of alcohol and nicotine: neuronal mechanisms, cross-tolerance, and genetic factors.
ABSTRACT Alcohol and nicotine are two of the oldest and most commonly used recreational drugs, and many people use both of them together. Although their ready availability likely contributes to the strong correlation between alcohol and nicotine use, several lines of evidence suggest that biological factors play a role as well. For example, both alcohol and nicotine act on a brain system called the mesolimbic dopamine system, which mediates the rewarding and reinforcing properties of both drugs. Modification of the activities of the mesolimbic dopamine system can interfere with the effects of both alcohol and nicotine. Another mechanism that may contribute to alcohol-nicotine interactions is cross-tolerance to the effects of both drugs. Finally, genetic studies in humans and of selectively bred mouse and rat strains suggest that shared genetic factors help determine a person's liability to use or abuse both alcohol and nicotine.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Anh D Lê, Jun 28, 2015
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ABSTRACT: Tobacco smoking is a well-known risk factor for subsequent alcohol abuse, but the neural events underlying this risk remain largely unknown. Alcohol and nicotine reinforcement involve common neural circuitry, including the mesolimbic dopamine system. We demonstrate in rodents that pre-exposure to nicotine increases alcohol self-administration and decreases alcohol-induced dopamine responses. The blunted dopamine response was due to increased inhibitory synaptic transmission onto dopamine neurons. Blocking stress hormone receptors prior to nicotine exposure prevented all interactions with alcohol that we measured, including the increased inhibition onto dopamine neurons, the decreased dopamine responses, and the increased alcohol self-administration. These results indicate that nicotine recruits neuroendocrine systems to influence neurotransmission and behavior associated with alcohol reinforcement.Neuron 07/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2013.06.006 · 15.98 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Alcohol and nicotine are often co-abused. As many as 80-95% of alcoholics are also smokers, suggesting that ethanol and nicotine, the primary addictive component of tobacco smoke, may functionally interact in the central nervous system and/or share a common mechanism of action. While nicotine initiates dependence by binding to and activating neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), ligand-gated cation channels normally activated by endogenous acetylcholine (ACh), ethanol is much less specific with the ability to modulate multiple gene products including those encoding voltage-gated ion channels, and excitatory/inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors. However, emerging data indicate that ethanol interacts with nAChRs, both directly and indirectly, in the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic (DAergic) reward circuitry to affect brain reward systems. Like nicotine, ethanol activates DAergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) which project to the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Blockade of VTA nAChRs reduces ethanol-mediated activation of DAergic neurons, NAc DA release, consumption, and operant responding for ethanol in rodents. Thus, ethanol may increase ACh release into the VTA driving activation of DAergic neurons through nAChRs. In addition, ethanol potentiates distinct nAChR subtype responses to ACh and nicotine in vitro and in DAergic neurons. The smoking cessation therapeutic and nAChR partial agonist, varenicline, reduces alcohol consumption in heavy drinking smokers and rodent models of alcohol consumption. Finally, single nucleotide polymorphisms in nAChR subunit genes are associated with alcohol dependence phenotypes and smoking behaviors in human populations. Together, results from pre-clinical, clinical, and genetic studies indicate that nAChRs may have an inherent role in the abusive properties of ethanol, as well as in nicotine and alcohol co-dependence.Frontiers in Psychiatry 04/2013; 4:29. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00029
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ABSTRACT: Addictive drugs can activate systems involved in normal reward-related learning, creating long-lasting memories of the drug's reinforcing effects and the environmental cues surrounding the experience. These memories significantly contribute to the maintenance of compulsive drug use as well as cue-induced relapse which can occur even after long periods of abstinence. Synaptic plasticity is thought to be a prominent molecular mechanism underlying drug-induced learning and memories. Ethanol and nicotine are both widely abused drugs that share a common molecular target in the brain, the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). The nAChRs are ligand-gated ion channels that are vastly distributed throughout the brain and play a key role in synaptic neurotransmission. In this review, we will delineate the role of nAChRs in the development of ethanol and nicotine addiction. We will characterize both ethanol and nicotine's effects on nAChR-mediated synaptic transmission and plasticity in several key brain areas that are important for addiction. Finally, we will discuss some of the behavioral outcomes of drug-induced synaptic plasticity in animal models. An understanding of the molecular and cellular changes that occur following administration of ethanol and nicotine will lead to better therapeutic strategies.Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 01/2012; 5:83. DOI:10.3389/fnmol.2012.00083