New research finds brain may be wired to nicotine addiction

September 30, 2013 / / — New research conducted at The Rockefeller University, Washington University School of Medicine and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin published in the Sept. 30, 2013, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the brain may be wired toward nicotine addiction.

Previous studies have shown that nicotine binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain. The nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are primarily located in the medial habenula region of the brain. The scientists found three primary gene subunits are involved in nicotine addiction and withdrawal. The α3, β4 and α5 subunits of the nAChR play a key role in heavy tobacco use and relapse.