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1.  Multiple CNS nicotinic receptors mediate L-dopa-induced dyskinesias; studies with parkinsonian nicotinic receptor knockout miceΔ 
Biochemical pharmacology  2013;86(8):1153-1162.
Accumulating evidence supports the idea that drugs acting at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) may be beneficial for Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by a loss of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Nicotine administration to parkinsonian animals protects against nigrostriatal damage. In addition, nicotine and nAChR drugs improve L-dopa-induced dyskinesias, a debilitating side effect of L-dopa therapy which remains the gold-standard treatment for Parkinson's disease. Nicotine exerts its antidyskinetic effect by interacting with multiple nAChRs. One approach to identify the subtypes specifically involved in L-dopa-induced dyskinesias is through the use of nAChR subunit null mutant mice. Previous work with β2 and α6 nAChR knockout mice has shown that α6β2* nAChRs were necessary for the development/maintenance of L-dopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements (AIMs). The present results in parkinsonian α4 nAChR knockout mice indicate that α4β2* nAChRs also play an essential role since nicotine did not reduce L-dopa-induced AIMs in such mice. Combined analyses of the data from α4 and α6 knockout mice suggest that the α6α4β2β3 subtype may be critical. In contrast to the studies with α4 and α6 knockout mice, nicotine treatment did reduce L-dopa-induced AIMs in parkinsonian α7 nAChR knockout mice. However, α7 nAChR subunit deletion alone increased baseline AIMs, suggesting that α7 receptors exert an inhibitory influence on L-dopa-induced AIMs. In conclusion, α6β2*, α4β2* and α7 nAChRs all modulate L-dopa-induced AIMs, although their mode of regulation varies. Thus drugs targeting one or multiple nAChRs may be optimal for reducing L-dopa-induced dyskinesias in Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC3797228  PMID: 23831952
Dyskinesias; Nicotine; Nicotinic receptors; Parkinson’s disease; Striatum
2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3685407  PMID: 23583932
Dyskinesia; L-dopa; nicotine; nicotinic; Parkinson’s disease; sazetidine
3.  Nicotinic receptor agonists decrease L-dopa-induced dyskinesias most effectively in partially lesioned parkinsonian rats 
Neuropharmacology  2011;60(6):861-868.
L-dopa therapy for Parkinson's disease leads to dyskinesias or abnormal involuntary movement (AIMs) for which there are few treatment options. Our previous data showed that nicotine administration reduced L-dopa-induced AIMs in parkinsonian monkeys and rats. To further understand how nicotine mediates its antidyskinetic action, we investigated the effect of nicotinic receptor (nAChR) agonists in unilateral 6-OHDA-lesioned rats with varying striatal damage. We first tested the drugs in L-dopa-treated rats with a near-complete striatal dopamine lesion (>99%), the standard rodent dyskinesia model. Varenicline, an agonist that interacts with multiple nAChRs, did not significantly reduce L-dopa-induced AIMs, while 5-iodo-A-85380 (A-85380), which acts selectively at α4β2* and α6β2* subtypes, reduced AIMs by 20%. By contrast, both varenicline and A-85380 reduced L-dopa-induced AIMs by 40–50% in rats with a partial striatal dopamine lesion. Neither drug worsened the antiparkinsonian action of L-dopa. The results show that selective nicotinic agonists reduce dyskinesias, and that they are optimally effective in animals with partial striatal dopamine damage. These findings suggest that presynaptic dopamine terminal α4β2* and α6β2* nAChRs are critical for nicotine’s antidyskinetic action. The current data have important implications for the use of nicotinic receptor-directed drugs for L-dopa-induced dyskinesias, a debilitating motor complication of dopamine replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3133531  PMID: 21232546
A-85380; dyskinesia; L-dopa; nicotine; nicotinic; varenicline
4.  Chronic Nicotine Treatment Increases nAChRs and Microglial Expression in Monkey Substantia Nigra after Nigrostriatal Damage 
Our previous work had shown that long-term nicotine administration improved dopaminergic markers and nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) in the striatum of monkeys with nigrostriatal damage. The present experiments were done to determine whether nicotine treatment also led to changes in the substantia nigra, the region containing dopaminergic cell bodies. Monkeys were chronically treated with nicotine in the drinking water for 6 months after which they were injected with low dose MPTP for a further 6-month period. Nicotine was administered until the monkeys were euthanized 2 months after the last MPTP injection. Nicotine treatment did not affect the dopamine transporter or the number of tyrosine hydroxylase positive cells in the substantia nigra of lesioned monkeys. However, nicotine administration did lead to a greater increase in α3/α6β2* and α4β2* nAChRs in lesioned monkeys compared to controls. Nicotine also significantly elevated microglia and reduced the number of extracellular neuromelanin deposits in the substantia nigra of MPTP-lesioned monkeys. These findings indicate that long-term nicotine treatment modulates expression of several molecular measures in monkey substantia nigra that may result in an improvement in nigral integrity and/or function. These observations may have therapeutic implications for Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3133952  PMID: 19685015
Neuromelanin; Nicotine; Nicotinic receptor; Substantia nigra; Parkinson’s disease
5.  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.
PMCID: PMC2815339  PMID: 19433069
L-Dopa-induced dyskinesias; Neuroprotection; Nicotine; Nicotinic; Nigrostriatal; Parkinson’s disease

Results 1-5 (5)