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BACKGROUND - Alcohol and tobacco use are heritable phenotypes. However, only a small number of common genetic variants have been identified, and common variants account for a modest proportion of the heritability. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the role of low-frequency and rare variants in alcohol and tobacco use.
METHODS - We meta-analyzed ExomeChip association results from eight discovery cohorts and included 12,466 subjects and 7432 smokers in the analysis of alcohol consumption and tobacco use, respectively. The ExomeChip interrogates low-frequency and rare exonic variants, and in addition a small pool of common variants. We investigated top variants in an independent sample in which ICD-9 diagnoses of "alcoholism" (N = 25,508) and "tobacco use disorder" (N = 27,068) had been assessed. In addition to the single variant analysis, we performed gene-based, polygenic risk score (PRS), and pathway analyses.
RESULTS - The meta-analysis did not yield exome-wide significant results. When we jointly analyzed our top results with the independent sample, no low-frequency or rare variants reached significance for alcohol consumption or tobacco use. However, two common variants that were present on the ExomeChip, rs16969968 (p = 2.39 × 10) and rs8034191 (p = 6.31 × 10) located in CHRNA5 and AGPHD1 at 15q25.1, showed evidence for association with tobacco use.
DISCUSSION - Low-frequency and rare exonic variants with large effects do not play a major role in alcohol and tobacco use, nor does the aggregate effect of ExomeChip variants. However, our results confirmed the role of the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cluster of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes in tobacco use.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Acetylcholine (ACh) is a potent neuromodulator capable of modifying patterns of acoustic information flow. In auditory cortex, cholinergic systems have been shown to increase salience/gain while suppressing extraneous information. However, the mechanism by which cholinergic circuits shape signal processing in the auditory thalamus (medial geniculate body, MGB) is poorly understood. The present study, in male Fischer Brown Norway rats, seeks to determine the location and function of presynaptic neuronal nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs) at the major inputs to MGB and characterize how nAChRs change during aging. electrophysiological/optogenetic methods were used to examine responses of MGB neurons after activation of nAChRs during a paired-pulse paradigm. Presynaptic nAChR activation increased responses evoked by stimulation of excitatory corticothalamic and inhibitory tectothalamic terminals. Conversely, nAChR activation appeared to have little effect on evoked responses from inhibitory thalamic reticular nucleus and excitatory tectothalamic terminals. hybridization data showed nAChR subunit transcripts in GABAergic inferior colliculus neurons and glutamatergic auditory cortical neurons supporting the present slice findings. Responses to nAChR activation at excitatory corticothalamic and inhibitory tectothalamic inputs were diminished by aging. These findings suggest that cholinergic input to the MGB increases the strength of tectothalamic inhibitory projections, potentially improving the signal-to-noise ratio and signal detection while increasing corticothalamic gain, which may facilitate top-down identification of stimulus identity. These mechanisms appear to be affected negatively by aging, potentially diminishing speech perception in noisy environments. Cholinergic inputs to the MGB appear to maximize sensory processing by adjusting both top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in conditions of attention and arousal. The pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus is the source of cholinergic innervation for sensory thalamus and is a critical part of an ascending arousal system that controls the firing mode of thalamic cells based on attentional demand. The present study describes the location and impact of aging on presynaptic neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) within the circuitry of the auditory thalamus (medial geniculate body, MGB). We show that nAChRs are located on ascending inhibitory and descending excitatory presynaptic inputs onto MGB neurons, likely increasing gain selectively and improving temporal clarity. In addition, we show that aging has a deleterious effect on nAChR efficacy. Cholinergic dysfunction at the level of MGB may affect speech understanding negatively in the elderly population.
Copyright © 2017 the authors 0270-6474/17/3711378-13$15.00/0.
Adrenal chromaffin cells (ACCs) are the neuroendocrine arm of the sympathetic nervous system and key mediators of the physiological stress response. Acetylcholine (ACh) released from preganglionic splanchnic nerves activates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on chromaffin cells causing membrane depolarization, opening voltage-gated Ca channels (VGCC), and exocytosis of catecholamines and neuropeptides. The serotonin transporter is expressed in ACCs and interacts with 5-HT receptors to control secretion. In addition to blocking the serotonin transporter, some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also agonists at sigma-1 receptors which function as intracellular chaperone proteins and can translocate to the plasma membrane to modulate ion channels. Therefore, we investigated whether SSRIs and other sigma-1 receptor ligands can modulate stimulus-secretion coupling in ACCs. Escitalopram and fluvoxamine (100 nM to 1 μM) reversibly inhibited nAChR currents. The sigma-1 receptor antagonists NE-100 and BD-1047 also blocked nAChR currents (≈ 50% block at 100 nM) as did PRE-084, a sigma-1 receptor agonist. Block of nAChR currents by fluvoxamine and NE-100 was not additive suggesting a common site of action. VGCC currents were unaffected by the drugs. Neither the increase in cytosolic [Ca ] nor the resulting catecholamine secretion evoked by direct membrane depolarization to bypass nAChRs was altered by fluvoxamine or NE-100. However, both Ca entry and catecholamine secretion evoked by the cholinergic agonist carbachol were significantly reduced by fluvoxamine or NE-100. Together, our data suggest that sigma-1 receptors do not acutely regulate catecholamine secretion. Rather, SSRIs and other sigma-1 receptor ligands inhibit secretion evoked by cholinergic stimulation because of direct block of Ca entry via nAChRs.
© 2017 International Society for Neurochemistry.
Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a pleiotropic neuropeptide found at synapses throughout the central and autonomic nervous system. We previously found that PACAP engages a selective G-protein coupled receptor (PAC1R) on ciliary ganglion neurons to rapidly enhance quantal acetylcholine (ACh) release from presynaptic terminals via neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS1) and cyclic AMP/protein kinase A (PKA) dependent processes. Here, we examined how PACAP stimulates NO production and targets resultant outcomes to synapses. Scavenging extracellular NO blocked PACAP-induced plasticity supporting a retrograde (post- to presynaptic) NO action on ACh release. Live-cell imaging revealed that PACAP stimulates NO production by mechanisms requiring NOS1, PKA and Ca(2+) influx. Ca(2+)-permeable nicotinic ACh receptors composed of α7 subunits (α7-nAChRs) are potentiated by PKA-dependent PACAP/PAC1R signaling and were required for PACAP-induced NO production and synaptic plasticity since both outcomes were drastically reduced following their selective inhibition. Co-precipitation experiments showed that NOS1 associates with α7-nAChRs, many of which are perisynaptic, as well as with heteromeric α3*-nAChRs that generate the bulk of synaptic activity. NOS1-nAChR physical association could facilitate NO production at perisynaptic and adjacent postsynaptic sites to enhance focal ACh release from juxtaposed presynaptic terminals. The synaptic outcomes of PACAP/PAC1R signaling are localized by PKA anchoring proteins (AKAPs). PKA regulatory-subunit overlay assays identified five AKAPs in ganglion lysates, including a prominent neuronal subtype. Moreover, PACAP-induced synaptic plasticity was selectively blocked when PKA regulatory-subunit binding to AKAPs was inhibited. Taken together, our findings indicate that PACAP/PAC1R signaling coordinates nAChR, NOS1 and AKAP activities to induce targeted, retrograde plasticity at autonomic synapses. Such coordination has broad relevance for understanding the control of autonomic synapses and consequent visceral functions.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
RATIONALE - Stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic systems has been shown to alleviate ADHD symptoms and to improve cognitive performance. AZD1446 is a selective α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist with potential effect on the symptoms of ADHD.
OBJECTIVES - The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics of AZD1446 in adults with ADHD treated for 2 weeks.
METHOD - This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Participants were 79 adults with ADHD, grouped according to their use of nicotine-containing products. Nicotine non-users received placebo and two of three AZD1446 treatment regimens (80 mg tid, 80 mg qd, 10 mg tid). Nicotine users received placebo, AZD1446 80 mg tid and 80 mg qd. Efficacy measures included the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale and cognitive measures of immediate and delayed verbal episodic memory, learning, attention, working memory, executive functioning, and spatial problem solving (CogState computerized test battery).
RESULTS - There was no significant effect of AZD1446 on any of the clinical scores irrespective of dose, schedule, or concomitant use of nicotine products. A statistically significant improvement was seen on the Groton Maze Learning Task, a measure of executive functioning, in nicotine non-users after treatment with AZD1446 80 mg qd.
CONCLUSIONS - AZD1446 was well tolerated, but did not significantly improve ADHD symptoms after 2 weeks of treatment compared to placebo. While the present study does not support the therapeutic utility of AZD1446 in ADHD, its potential pro-cognitive effects remain to be explored in other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Currently available therapeutic agents for treatment of schizophrenia target signaling by monoaminergic neurotransmitters; however, these treatments do not adequately treat the range of symptoms observed in patients. While these therapies treat the positive symptoms, they do not have efficacy in treating the negative symptoms and cognitive deficits that are associated with the disease. Evidence suggests that molecules that modulate signaling by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) could provide a more comprehensive treatment of schizophrenia than currently prescribed antipsychotics. Molecules that broadly increase ACh-signaling have been demonstrated to have efficacy in treating numerous symptom clusters in schizophrenia patients. Unfortunately, these compounds induce adverse effects via activation of peripheral receptors that limit their clinical utility. One proposed strategy for retaining the efficacy of cholinergic treatments, without the adverse effects, is to target specific cholinergic receptor subtypes in the brain. Several cholinergic receptors are able to modulate brain circuits that are dysregulated in schizophrenia patients including receptors belonging to both the muscarinic family (i.e., M1, M4, and M5), and the nicotinic family (i.e., α7, α4β2). Recently, great strides have been made in developing small molecules with high specificity for these receptors, and several of these novel molecules have robust efficacy in several preclinical models predictive of both anti-psychotic and pro-cognitive effectiveness. Promising studies suggest that targeting M1 and α7 may be beneficial for pro-cognitive effects, while molecules that target M4 may be ideally suited to address the positive symptoms. Since these receptor subtypes are distinct from those responsible for the adverse effects observed with non-selective cholinergic treatments, there is hope that molecules targeting these receptors could provide novel therapeutics. Further research is needed to examine the utility of such compounds as therapeutics that could be used either alone, or in combination with existing medications, to better treat schizophrenia.
The identification and exploration of genetic loci that influence smoking behaviors have been conducted primarily in populations of the European ancestry. Here we report results of the first genome-wide association study meta-analysis of smoking behavior in African Americans in the Study of Tobacco in Minority Populations Genetics Consortium (n = 32,389). We identified one non-coding single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; rs2036527[A]) on chromosome 15q25.1 associated with smoking quantity (cigarettes per day), which exceeded genome-wide significance (β = 0.040, s.e. = 0.007, P = 1.84 × 10(-8)). This variant is present in the 5'-distal enhancer region of the CHRNA5 gene and defines the primary index signal reported in studies of the European ancestry. No other SNP reached genome-wide significance for smoking initiation (SI, ever vs never smoking), age of SI, or smoking cessation (SC, former vs current smoking). Informative associations that approached genome-wide significance included three modestly correlated variants, at 15q25.1 within PSMA4, CHRNA5 and CHRNA3 for smoking quantity, which are associated with a second signal previously reported in studies in European ancestry populations, and a signal represented by three SNPs in the SPOCK2 gene on chr10q22.1. The association at 15q25.1 confirms this region as an important susceptibility locus for smoking quantity in men and women of African ancestry. Larger studies will be needed to validate the suggestive loci that did not reach genome-wide significance and further elucidate the contribution of genetic variation to disparities in cigarette consumption, SC and smoking-attributable disease between African Americans and European Americans.
A membrane alignment technique has been used to measure the distance between two TOAC nitroxide spin labels on the membrane-spanning M2δ, peptide of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR), via CW-EPR spectroscopy. The TOAC-labeled M2δ peptides were mechanically aligned using DMPC lipids on a planar quartz support, and CW-EPR spectra were recorded at specific orientations. Global analysis in combination with rigorous spectral simulation was used to simultaneously analyze data from two different sample orientations for both single- and double-labeled peptides. We measured an internitroxide distance of 14.6 Å from a dual TOAC-labeled AChR M2δ peptide at positions 7 and 13 that closely matches with the 14.5 Å distance obtained from a model of the labeled AChR M2δ peptide. In addition, the angles determining the relative orientation of the two nitroxides have been determined, and the results compare favorably with molecular modeling. The global analysis of the data from the aligned samples gives much more precise estimates of the parameters defining the geometry of the two labels than can be obtained from a randomly dispersed sample.
The purpose of this study was to determine if tonic restrain of blood pressure by nitric oxide (NO) is impaired early in the development of hypertension. Impaired NO function is thought to contribute to hypertension, but it is not clear if this is explained by direct effects of NO on vascular tone or indirect modulation of sympathetic activity. We determined the blood pressure effect of NO synthase inhibition with N(ω)-monomethyl-l-arginine (L-NMMA) during autonomic blockade with trimethaphan to eliminate baroreflex buffering and NO modulation of autonomic tone. In this setting, impaired NO modulation of vascular tone would be reflected as a blunted pressor response to L-NMMA. We enrolled a total of 66 subjects (39 ± 1.3 yr old, 30 females), 20 normotensives, 20 prehypertensives (blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/90 mmHg), 17 hypertensives, and 9 smokers (included as "positive" controls of impaired NO function). Trimethaphan normalized blood pressure in hypertensives, suggesting increased sympathetic tone contributing to hypertension. In contrast, L-NMMA produced similar increases in systolic blood pressure in normal, prehypertensive, and hypertensive subjects (31 ± 2, 32 ± 2, and 30 ± 3 mmHg, respectively), whereas the response of smokers was blunted (16 ± 5 mmHg, P = 0.012). Our results suggest that sympathetic activity plays a role in hypertension. NO tonically restrains blood pressure by ∼30 mmHg, but we found no evidence of impaired modulation by NO of vascular tone contributing to the early development of hypertension. If NO deficiency contributes to hypertension, it is likely to be through its modulation of the autonomic nervous system, which was excluded in this study.
RATIONALE - Evidence for a relationship between cigarette smoking and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has prompted investigations into nicotinic treatments for this disorder. Impulsivity is a hallmark of ADHD and is measured in the laboratory as behavioral inhibition (BI) using the stop signal task (SST). Acute nicotine improves SST performance in adolescents and young adults who have both ADHD and impaired baseline SST performance, raising questions about the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor function in BI. The specificity of this effect to those with ADHD, the component processes of the SST affected by nicotine, and the effects of nicotinic antagonism are yet unknown.
OBJECTIVES - This study investigated the effects of both a nicotinic receptor agonist and antagonist on the SST and choice reaction time task (CRT) in highly impulsive (HI) and control (CTRL) subjects.
METHODS - This was a within-subjects, double-blind study of: 7 mg transdermal nicotine, 20 mg oral mecamylamine, and placebo. Subjects were recruited into HI (n = 11) and CTRL (n = 14) groups based on both SST and clinical criteria.
RESULTS - BI was significantly improved by nicotine compared with placebo in the HI group and impaired by mecamylamine in the CTRL group. Go signal reaction time on the SST was improved by nicotine compared with placebo in the CTRL group and was unchanged in both groups on the CRT.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings demonstrate nicotinic modulation of BI in subjects with both normal and disordered baseline performance. The effects on BI are consistent with cholinergic enhancement of signal detection processes and/or modulation of noradrenaline by nicotine.