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Keywords:

  • γ-aminobutyric acid;
  • chronic nicotine treatment;
  • inhibitory postsynaptic currents;
  • muscarinic acetylcholine receptors;
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptors;
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors

Abstract

We have previously reported that acute and chronic nicotine exposure lower the threshold for long-term potentiation (LTP) induction in the rat hippocampal CA1 region, and acute application of nicotine in the chronic-nicotine-treated hippocampus further reduces the threshold. However, it is unknown how withdrawal from chronic nicotine exposure affects the induction of LTP. Here, we show that, following nicotine withdrawal, the threshold for LTP induction fluctuates before returning to the basal level and acute nicotine is no longer effective in lowering the threshold at 4 days after withdrawal. Chronic nicotine-induced enhancement of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor responses slowly diminishes and returns to the control level by 8 days of withdrawal. In 4-day-withdrawn hippocampi, there is functional up-regulation of postsynaptic α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) on interneurons in the stratum radiatum, whereas the release of γ-aminobutyric acid from their terminals is reduced. In both control and chronic nicotine-exposed hippocampi, acute nicotine depresses monosynaptic inhibitory postsynaptic currents recorded in pyramidal cells but has almost no effect at 4 days of withdrawal. The lack of effect is due, at least in part, to the loss of a presynaptic nicotine effect. These withdrawal-induced changes are accompanied by decreases in normal nicotine-induced enhancement of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor responses, which may be responsible for the lack of acute nicotine-mediated facilitation of LTP induction in 4-day-withdrawn hippocampi. These withdrawal-induced changes may contribute to the cellular basis of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and, thus, nicotine dependence.