Nicotine-induced switch in the nicotinic cholinergic mechanisms of facilitation of long-term potentiation induction


Dr Katumi Sumikawa, as above.


Nicotine facilitates the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampal CA1 region. The present study reveals the potential mechanisms underlying this effect of nicotine. Timed ACh-mediated activation of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on pyramidal cells is known to promote LTP induction. Nicotine could suppress this timing-dependent mechanism by desensitizing nAChRs. Timed ACh-mediated activation of α7 nAChRs on feedforward interneurons can prevent LTP induction by inhibiting pyramidal cells. Nicotine diminished this ACh-mediated inhibition by desensitizing α7 nAChRs, thereby reducing the inhibitory influence on pyramidal cells. In addition to these desensitizing effects, nicotine activated presynaptic non-α7 nAChRs on feedforward interneurons to decrease the evoked release of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) onto pyramidal cells. Furthermore, nicotine increased the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in pyramidal cells, and concomitantly caused a reduction in the size of responses to focal GABA application onto the dendrites of pyramidal cells, suggesting that the nicotine-induced increase in interneuronal activity leads ultimately to a use-dependent depression of evoked IPSCs in pyramidal cells. These nicotine-induced suppressions of inhibition of pyramidal cells were accompanied by enhanced N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) responses in pyramidal cells. Thus, our results suggest that nicotine promotes the induction of LTP by diminishing inhibitory influences on NMDA responses while suppressing the ACh-mediated mechanisms. These ACh-independent mechanisms probably contribute to the nicotine-induced cognitive enhancement observed in the presence of cholinergic deficits, such as those in Alzheimer's disease patients.