Compounds block stress-enhanced nicotine intake in rats
Stress is a major cause of relapse after people quit smoking. Worrying situations, such as money or relationship problems, can affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain, leading former smokers to reach for a cigarette. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science have discovered that compounds that activate γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain can keep rats from self-administering increased levels of nicotine during stressful conditions in an animal model for relapse.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases nerve signaling in the brain. When a person experiences stress, their GABA levels can decrease, causing some neurons to become hyperactive. Using an animal model, Burt Sharp and colleagues wanted to find out if giving rats compounds that stimulate GABAA, a specific type of GABA receptor, on certain neurons, called basolateral amygdala principal output neurons, could lessen the rats’ relapse to nicotine during stressful conditions.
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