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Keywords:

  • Nicotinic receptors;
  • Xenopus oocytes;
  • Acetylcholine;
  • Dopamine;
  • α4β2 receptors;
  • α3β2 receptors;
  • Receptor desensitization/inactivation

Abstract: To determine whether prolonged exposure to nicotine differentially affects α3β2 versus α4β2 nicotinic receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes, oocytes were coinjected with subunit cRNAs, and peak responses to agonist, evoked by 0.7 or 7 µM nicotine for α4β2 and α3β2 receptors, respectively, were determined before and following incubation for up to 48 h with nanomolar concentrations of nicotine. Agonist responses of α4β2 receptors decreased in a concentration-dependent manner with IC50 values in the 10 nM range following incubation for 24 h and in the 1 nM range following incubation for 48 h. In contrast, responses of α3β2 receptors following incubation for 24–48 h with 1,000 nM nicotine decreased by only 50–60%, and total ablation of responses could not be achieved. Attenuation of responses occurred within the first 5 min of nicotine exposure and was a first-order process for both subtypes; half-lives for inactivation were 4.09 and 2.36 min for α4β2 and α3β2 receptors, respectively. Recovery was also first-order for both subtypes; half-lives for recovery were 21 and 7.5 h for α4β2 and α3β2 receptors, respectively. Thus, the responsiveness of both receptors decreased following sustained exposure to nicotine, but α4β2 receptors recovered much slower. Results may explain the differential effect of sustained nicotine exposure on nicotinic receptor-mediated neurotransmitter release.