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Endogenous Cannabinoid and Opioid Systems and their Role in Nicotine Addiction

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Nicotine addiction is a complex behavioural alteration, in which many neuronal pathways and neurotransmitters are involved. For a long time, dopamine has been considered one of the most important neurotransmitters in mediating the rewarding effects of nicotine. In addition, a great amount of research suggests that the endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems play an overall modulatory effect on the reward circuitry and participate in the addictive properties of most of the prototypical drugs of abuse. This review focuses on recent behavioural and biochemical data involving these systems in the different processes that contribute to tobacco addiction. A possible role for the endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems in the rewarding properties of nicotine as well as in the development of nicotine physical dependence and relapse to nicotine-seeking behaviour will be examined. According to preclinical studies, clinical trials suggest that the manipulation of these systems with cannabinoid or opioid antagonists could be a potential therapeutical strategy for treating nicotine addiction.

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Keywords: Nicotine; addiction; cannabinoid; opioid; relapse; reward; self-administration; withdrawal syndrome

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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