The smoking incentive in patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) depends on stimulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the central nervous system. To detect potential predictor genes for nicotine responses in SCZ, we explored common factor using research data in human and animal samples. In lymphoblastoid cell lines from SCZ, the mRNA expression level of α7 nAChR subunit was decreased. In SCZ-like model mice of phencyclidine (PCP; 10 mg/kg/day, subcutaneously for 14 days)-administered mice, the mRNA expression level of α7 nAChR subunit and protein expression level of α7 or α4 nAChR subunit were significantly decreased in the prefrontal cortex during PCP withdrawal. Protein, but not mRNA, expression levels of α7, α4, and β2 nAChR subunits were significantly increased in the nucleus accumbens. Acute (-)-nicotine [(-)-NIC: 0.3 mg/kg, s.c.] treatment attenuated impairments of social behaviors and visual recognition memory. These effects of (-)-NIC were completely blocked by both methyllycaconitine, a selective α7 nAChR antagonist, and dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE), a selective α4β2 nAChR antagonist. (-)-NIC did not induce conditioned place preference, but enhanced sensitivity to methamphetamine-induced hyperactivity. These findings suggest that α7 nAChR is associated with development of disease and is implicated in the therapeutic effect of nicotine in SCZ. The smoking incentive in SCZ might be attributed to treat their own symptoms, rather than a result of (-)-NIC dependence, by stimulating α7 and/or α4β2 nAChRs.
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