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1.  The α7 nicotinic receptor agonist ABT-107 protects against nigrostriatal damage in rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions 
Experimental neurology  2014;263:277-284.
The finding that smoking is inversely correlated with Parkinson's disease and that nicotine attenuates nigrostriatal damage in parkinsonian animals supports the idea that nicotine may be neuroprotective. Nicotine is thought to exert this effect by acting at nicotinic receptors (nAChRs), including the α7 subtype. The objective of this study was twofold: first, to test the protective potential of ABT-107, an agonist with high selectivity for α7 nAChRs; and second, to investigate its cellular mechanism of action. Rats were implanted with minipumps containing ABT-107 (0.25 mg/kg/d). In addition, we tested the effect of nicotine (1 mg/kg/d) as a positive control, and also DMXB (2 mg/kg/d) which acts primarily with α7 but also α4β2* nAChRs. Two wk after minipump placement, the rats were lesioned by unilateral administration of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the medial forebrain bundle. Lesioning alone decreased contralateral forelimb use and adjusted stepping, two measures of parkinsonism. ABT-107 and nicotine treatment significantly improved these behaviors at all wk tested, with variable improvement with DMXB. We next investigated the cellular mechanism involved. The striatal dopamine transporter (DAT), a marker of dopaminergic integrity, was reduced ~70% with lesioning. ABT-107 or nicotine treatment significantly increased DAT levels in lesioned striatum; these drugs did not alter DAT levels in intact striatum. ABT-107 and nicotine also significantly improved basal dopamine release from lesioned striatum, as well as nicotine-stimulated dopamine release mediated via α4β2* and α6β2* nAChRs. These data suggest that α7 nAChR agonists may improve motor behaviors associated with nigrostriatal damage by enhancing striatal dopaminergic function.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.09.015
PMCID: PMC4262739  PMID: 25261754
ABT-107; DMXB; neuroprotection; nicotine; nicotinic receptors; Parkinson's disease
2.  Role for the nicotinic cholinergic system in movement disorders; therapeutic implications 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2014;144(1):50-59.
A large body of evidence using experimental animal models shows that the nicotinic cholinergic system is involved in the control of movement under physiological conditions. This work raised the question whether dysregulation of this system may contribute to motor dysfunction and whether drugs targeting nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may be of therapeutic benefit in movement disorders. Accumulating preclinical studies now show that drugs acting at nAChRs improve drug-induced dyskinesias. The general nAChR agonist nicotine, as well as several nAChR agonists (varenicline, ABT-089 and ABT-894) reduce L-dopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements or dyskinesias up to 60% in parkinsonian nonhuman primates and rodents. These dyskinesias are potentially debilitating abnormal involuntary movements that arise as a complication of L-dopa therapy for Parkinson’s disease. In addition, nicotine and varenicline decrease antipsychotic-induced abnormal involuntary movements in rodent models of tardive dyskinesia. Antipsychotic-induced dyskinesias frequently arise as a side effect of chronic drug treatment for schizophrenia, psychosis and other psychiatric disorders. Preclinical and clinical studies also show that the nAChR agonist varenicline improves balance and coordination in various ataxias. Lastly, nicotine has been reported to attenuate the dyskinetic symptoms of Tourette’s disorder. Several nAChR subtypes appear to be involved in these beneficial effects of nicotine and nAChR drugs including α4β2*, α6β2* and α7 nAChRs (the asterisk indicates the possible presence of other subunits in the receptor). Overall, the above findings, coupled with nicotine’s neuroprotective effects, suggest that nAChR drugs have potential for future drug development for movement disorders.
doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.05.004
PMCID: PMC4149916  PMID: 24836728
Ataxia; L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias; Nicotine; Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; Tardive dyskinesia; Tourette’s syndrome
3.  ABT-089 and ABT-894 Reduce L-Dopa-Induced Dyskinesias in a Monkey Model of Parkinson’s Disease 
Background
L-dopa-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) are a serious complication of L-dopa therapy for Parkinson’s disease for which there is little treatment. Accumulating evidence shows that nicotine and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) drugs decrease LIDs in parkinsonian animals. Here we examined the effect of two β2 nAChR agonists, ABT-089 and ABT-894, previously approved for phase 2 clinical trials for other indications.
Methods
Two sets of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned monkeys were administered L-dopa/carbidopa (10/2.5 mg/kg) twice daily 5 days/week until stably dyskinetic. Each set had a vehicle-treated, a nAChR agonist-treated and a nicotine-treated group, as a positive control. Set A monkeys had previously received other nAChR drugs (nAChR drug-primed), while Set B monkeys were initially nAChR drug-naïve.
Results
Both sets were administered the partial agonist ABT-089 (0.01-1.0 mg/kg) orally 5 d/week twice daily 30 min before L-dopa with each dose given for 1-5 weeks. ABT-089 decreased LIDs 30-50% compared to vehicle-treated monkeys. Nicotine reduced LIDs by 70% in a parallel group. After 4 weeks washout, the effect of the full agonist ABT-894 (0.0001-0.10 mg/kg) was assessed on LIDs in Set A and Set B. ABT-894 reduced LIDs 70%, similar to nicotine. Both drugs acted equally well at α4β2* and α6β2* nAChRs; however, ABT-089 was 30-60 times less potent than ABT-894. Tolerance did not develop for the time periods tested (3-4 months). NAChR drugs did not worsen parkinsonism or cognitive ability. Emesis, a common problem with nAChR drugs, was not observed.
Conclusion
ABT-894 and ABT-089 appear good candidate nAChR drugs for the management of LIDs in Parkinson’s disease.
doi:10.1002/mds.25817
PMCID: PMC3990279  PMID: 24515328
dyskinesia; L-dopa; ABT-089; ABT-894; nicotinic; Parkinson’s disease
4.  α4β2 nicotinic receptors play a role in the nAChR-mediated decline in L-dopa-induced dyskinesias in parkinsonian rats 
Neuropharmacology  2013;71:191-203.
L-dopa-induced dyskinesias are a serious long-term side effect of dopamine replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease for which there are few treatment options. Our previous studies showed that nicotine decreased L-dopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs). Subsequent work with knockout mice demonstrated that α6β2* nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) play a key role. The present experiments were done to determine if α4β2* nAChRs are also involved in L-dopa-induced dyskinesias. To approach this, we took advantage of the finding that α6β2* nAChRs are predominantly present on striatal dopaminergic nerve terminals, while a significant population of α4β2* nAChRs are located on other neurons. Thus, a severe dopaminergic lesion would cause a major loss in α6β2*, but not α4β2* nAChRs. Experiments were therefore done in which rats were unilaterally lesioned with 6-hydroxydopamine, at a dose that lead to severe nigrostriatal damage. The dopamine transporter, a dopamine nerve terminal marker, was decreased by >99%. This lesion also decreased striatal α6β2* nAChRs by 97%, while α4β2* nAChRs were reduced by only 12% compared to control. A series of β2* nAChR compounds, including TC-2696, TI-10165, TC-8831, TC-10600 and sazetidine reduced L-dopa-induced AIMs in these rats by 23–32%. TC-2696, TI-10165, TC-8831 were also tested for parkinsonism, with no effect on this behavior. Tolerance did not develop with up to 3 months of treatment. Since α4a5β2 nAChRs are also predominantly on striatal dopamine terminals, these data suggest that drugs targeting α4β2 nAChRs may reduce L-dopa-induced dyskinesias in late stage Parkinson’s disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.03.038
PMCID: PMC3685407  PMID: 23583932
Dyskinesia; L-dopa; nicotine; nicotinic; Parkinson’s disease; sazetidine
5.  The nicotine-mediated decline in L-dopa-induced dyskinesias is associated with a decrease in striatal dopamine release 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;125(2):291-302.
L-dopa-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) are a side effect of Parkinson’s disease therapy that is thought to arise, at least in part, because of excessive dopaminergic activity. Thus, drugs that regulate dopaminergic tone may provide an approach to manage LIDs. Our previous studies showed that nicotine treatment reduced LIDs in parkinsonian animal models. The present work investigates whether nicotine may exert its beneficial effects by modulating presynaptic dopaminergic function. Rats were unilaterally lesioned by injection of 6-OHDA (2 × 3 ug per site) into the medial forebrain bundle to yield moderate parkinsonism. They were then implanted with minipumps containing vehicle or nicotine (2.0 mg/kg/d) and rendered dyskinetic with L-dopa (8 mg/kg plus 15 mg/kg benserazide). Lesioning alone decreased the striatal dopamine transporter, nicotinic receptor (nAChR) levels and nAChR-mediated 3H-dopamine release, consistent with previous results. Nicotine administration reduced L-dopa induced abnormal involuntary movements throughout the course of the study (4 months). Nicotine treatment led to declines in the striatal dopamine transporter, α6β2* nAChRs and various components of α6β2* and α4β2* nAChR-mediated release. L-dopa treatment had no effect. These data suggest that nicotine may improve LIDs in parkinsonian animal models by dampening striatal dopaminergic activity.
doi:10.1111/jnc.12179
PMCID: PMC3778041  PMID: 23373725
LIDs; dopamine; nicotine; nicotinic receptors; nigrostriatal lesion
6.  Nicotine-mediated improvement in L-dopa-induced dyskinesias in MPTP-lesioned monkeys is dependent on dopamine nerve terminal function 
Neurobiology of disease  2012;50:30-41.
L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) are abnormal involuntary movements that develop with long term L-dopa therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Studies show that nicotine administration reduced LIDs in several parkinsonian animal models. The present work was done to understand the factors that regulate the nicotine-mediated reduction in LIDs in MPTP-lesioned nonhuman primates. To approach this, we used two groups of monkeys, one with mild-moderate and the other with more severe parkinsonism rendered dyskinetic using L-dopa. In mild-moderately parkinsonian monkeys, nicotine pretreatment (300 μg/ml via drinking water) prevented the development of LIDs by ~75%. This improvement was maintained when the nicotine dose was lowered to 50 μg/ml but was lost with nicotine removal. Nicotine re-exposure again decreased LIDs. By contrast, nicotine treatment did not reduce LIDs in monkeys with more severe parkinsonism. We next determined how nicotine’s ability to reduce LIDs correlated with lesion-induced changes in the striatal dopamine transporter and 3H-dopamine release in these two groups of monkeys. The striatal dopamine transporter was reduced to 54% and 28% of control in mild-moderately and more severely parkinsonian monkeys, respectively. However, basal, K+, α4β2* and α6β2* nAChR-evoked 3H-dopamine release were near control levels in striatum of mild-moderately parkinsonian monkeys. By contrast, these same release measures were reduced to a significantly greater extent in striatum of more severely parkinsonian monkeys. Thus, nicotine best improves LIDs in lesioned monkeys in which striatal dopamine transmission is still relatively intact. These data suggest that nicotine treatment would most effectively reduce LIDs in patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2012.09.006
PMCID: PMC3685405  PMID: 23009753
Dopamine; L-dopa-induced dyskinesias; Nicotine; Nicotinic receptors; Parkinson’s disease
7.  Targeting nicotinic receptors for Parkinson's disease therapy 
A promising target for improved therapeutics in Parkinson's disease is the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). nAChRs are widely distributed throughout the brain, including the nigrostriatal system, and exert important modulatory effects on numerous behaviors. Accumulating evidence suggests that drugs such as nicotine that act at these sites may be of benefit for Parkinson's disease treatment. Recent work indicates that a potential novel therapeutic application is the use of nicotine to reduce levodopa-induced dyskinesias, a side effect of dopamine replacement therapy for Parkinson's disease. Several clinical trials also report that nicotine may diminish disease symptoms. Not only may nAChR drugs provide symptomatic improvement, but they may also attenuate the neurodegenerative process itself. This latter idea is supported by epidemiological studies which consistently demonstrate a ~50% reduced incidence of Parkinson's disease in smokers. Experimental work in parkinsonian animal models suggests that nicotine in tobacco may contribute to this protection. These combined findings suggest that nicotine and nAChR drugs offer the possibility of improved therapeutics for Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC3748273  PMID: 21838678
Nicotine; nicotinic receptors; levodopa; dyskinesias; neuroprotection; parkinsonian; Parkinson's disease
8.  Nicotine as a potential neuroprotective agent for Parkinson’s disease 
Converging research efforts suggest that nicotine and other drugs that act at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may be beneficial in the management of Parkinson’s disease. This idea initially stemmed from the results of epidemiological studies which demonstrate that smoking is associated with a decreased incidence of Parkinson’s disease. The subsequent finding that nicotine administration protected against nigrostriatal damage in parkinsonian animal models led to the idea that nicotine in tobacco products may contribute to this apparent protective action. Nicotine most likely exerts its effects by interacting at nAChRs. Accumulating research indicates that multiple subtypes, including α4β2, α6β2 and/or α7 containing nAChRs, may be involved. Stimulation of nAChRs initially activates various intracellular transduction pathways primarily via alterations in calcium signaling. Consequent adaptations in immune responsiveness and trophic factors may ultimately mediate nicotine’s ability to reduce/halt the neuronal damage that arises in Parkinson’s disease. In addition to a potential neuroprotective action, nicotine also has anti-depressant properties and improves attention/cognition. Altogether, these findings suggest that nicotine and nAChR drugs represent promising therapeutic agents for the management of Parkinson’s disease.
doi:10.1002/mds.25028
PMCID: PMC3685410  PMID: 22693036
Neuroprotection; Nicotine; Nicotinic; Nigrostriatal damage; Parkinson’s disease
9.  Multiple roles for nicotine in Parkinson’s disease 
Biochemical pharmacology  2009;78(7):677.
There exists a remarkable diversity of neurotransmitter compounds in the striatum, a pivotal brain region in the pathology of Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorder characterized by rigidity, tremor and bradykinesia. The striatal dopaminergic system, which is particularly vulnerable to neurodegeneration in this disorder, appears to be the major contributor to these motor problems. However, numerous other neurotransmitter systems in the striatum most likely also play a significant role, including the nicotinic cholinergic system. Indeed, there is an extensive anatomical overlap between dopaminergic and cholinergic neurons, and acetylcholine is well known to modulate striatal dopamine release both in vitro and in vivo. Nicotine, a drug that stimulates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), influences several functions relevant to Parkinson’s disease. Extensive studies in parkinsonian animals show that nicotine protects against nigrostriatal damage, findings that may explain the well-established decline in Parkinson’s disease incidence with tobacco use. In addition, recent work shows that nicotine reduces L-dopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements, a debilitating complication of L-dopa therapy for Parkinson’s disease. These combined observations suggest that nAChR stimulation may represent a useful treatment strategy for Parkinson’s disease for neuroprotection and symptomatic treatment. Importantly, only selective nAChR subtypes are present in the striatum including the α4β2*, α6β2* and α7 nAChR populations. Treatment with nAChR ligands directed to these subtypes may thus yield optimal therapeutic benefit for Parkinson’s disease, with a minimum of adverse side effects.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2009.05.003
PMCID: PMC2815339  PMID: 19433069
L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias; Neuroprotection; Nicotine; Nicotinic; Nigrostriatal; Parkinson’s disease
10.  Nicotine is neuroprotective when administered before but not after nigrostriatal damage in rats and monkeys 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;109(3):826-837.
Nicotine reduces dopaminergic deficits in parkinsonian animals when administered before nigrostriatal damage. Here we tested whether nicotine is also beneficial when given to rats and monkeys with pre-existing nigrostriatal damage. Rats were administered nicotine before and after a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion of the medial forebrain bundle, and the results compared to those in which rats received nicotine only after lesioning. Nicotine pretreatment attenuated behavioral deficits and lessened lesion-induced losses of the striatal dopamine transporter, and α6β2* and α4β2* nicotinic receptors (nAChRs). In contrast, nicotine administered two weeks after lesioning, when 6-OHDA-induced neurodegenerative effects are essentially complete, did not improve these same measures. Similar results were observed in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned monkeys. Nicotine did not enhance striatal markers when administered to monkeys with pre-existing nigrostriatal damage, in contrast to previous data that showed improvements when nicotine was given to monkeys before lesioning. These combined findings in two animal models suggest that nicotine is neuroprotective rather than neurorestorative against nigrostriatal damage. Receptor studies with 125I-α-conotoxinMII (α-CtxMII) and the α-CtxMII analog E11A were next done to determine whether nicotine treatment pre- or post-lesioning differentially affected expression of α6α4β2* and α6(nonα4)β2* nAChR subtypes in striatum. The observations suggest that protection against nigrostriatal damage may be linked to striatal α6α4β2* nAChRs.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06011.x
PMCID: PMC2677631  PMID: 19250334
MPTP; nicotine; neuroprotection; neurorestoration; 6-OHDA; Parkinson's disease
11.  Chronic nicotine treatment differentially regulates striatal α6α4β2* and α6(nonα4)β2* nAChR expression and function 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;74(3):844-853.
Nicotine treatment has long been associated with alterations in α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) expression that modify dopaminergic function. However, the influence of chronic nicotine treatment on the α6β2* nAChR, a subtype specifically localized on dopaminergic neurons, is less clear. Here we used voltammetry, as well as receptor binding studies, to identify the effects of nicotine on striatal α6β2* nAChR function and expression. Chronic nicotine via drinking water enhanced non-burst and burst endogenous dopamine release from rat striatal slices. In control animals, α6β2* nAChR blockade with α-conotoxinMII (α-CtxMII) decreased release with non-burst stimulation but not with burst firing. These data in control animals suggest that varying stimulus frequencies differentially regulate α6β2* nAChR-evoked dopamine release. In contrast, in nicotine-treated rats, α6β2* nAChR blockade elicited a similar pattern of dopamine release with non-burst and burst firing. To elucidate the α6β2* nAChR subtypes altered with chronic nicotine treatment, we used the novel α-CtxMII analogue E11A, in combination with α4 nAChR knockout mice. 125I-α-CtxMII competition studies in striatum of knockout mice showed that nicotine treatment decreased the α6α4β2* subtype, but increased the α6(nonα4)β2* nAChR population. These data indicate that α6β2* nAChR-evoked dopamine release in nicotine-treated rats is mediated by the α6(nonα4)β2* nAChR subtype, and suggest that the α6α4β2* nAChR and/or α4β2* nAChR contribute to the differential effect of higher frequency stimulation on dopamine release under control conditions. Thus, α6β2* nAChR subtypes may represent important targets for smoking cessation therapies and neurological disorders involving these receptors such as Parkinson's disease.
doi:10.1124/mol.108.048843
PMCID: PMC2847502  PMID: 18583454
12.  Nicotinic receptors as CNS targets for Parkinson’s disease 
Biochemical pharmacology  2007;74(8):1224-1234.
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by damage to the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system. Current therapies are symptomatic only and may be accompanied by serious side effects. There is therefore a continual search for novel compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease symptoms, as well as to reduce or halt disease progression. Nicotine administration has been reported to improve motor deficits that arise with nigrostriatal damage in parkinsonian animals and in Parkinson’s disease. In addition, nicotine protects against nigrostriatal damage in experimental models, findings that have led to the suggestion that the reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease in smokers may be due to the nicotine in tobacco. Altogether, these observations suggest that nicotine treatment may be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease. Nicotine interacts with multiple nicotinic receptor (nAChR) subtypes in the peripheral and central nervous system, as well as in skeletal muscle. Work to identify the subtypes affected in Parkinson’s disease is therefore critical for the development of targeted therapies. Results show that striatal α6β2-containing nAChRs are particularly susceptible to nigrostriatal damage, with a decline in receptor levels that closely parallels losses in striatal dopamine. In contrast, α4β2-containing nAChRs are decreased to a much smaller extent under the same conditions. These observations suggest that development of nAChR agonists or antagonists targeted to α6β2-containing nAChRs may represent a particularly relevant target for Parkinson’s disease therapeutics.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2007.06.015
PMCID: PMC2046219  PMID: 17631864
α-ConotoxinMII; Nicotine; Nicotinic; Parkinson’s disease; Nigrostriatal; Striatum

Results 1-12 (12)