Nicotinic Cholinergic Mechanisms in Alzheimer's Disease

Jianxin Shen, Jie Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

45 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by increased accumulation of Aβ and degeneration of cholinergic signaling between basal forebrain and hippocampus. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are important mediators of cholinergic signaling in modulation of learning and memory function. Accumulating lines of evidence indicate that a nAChR subtype, α7 receptor (α7-nAChR), plays an important role in modulations of excitatory neurotransmitter release, improvement of learning and memory ability, and enhancement of cognitive function. Importantly, the expression and function of α7-nAChRs is altered in the brain of AD animal models and AD patients, suggesting that this nAChR subtype participates in AD pathogenesis and may serve as a novel therapeutic target for AD treatment. However, the mechanisms underlying the role of α7-nAChRs in AD pathogenesis are very complex, and either neuroprotective effects or neurotoxic effects may occur through the α7-nAChRs. These effects depend on the levels of α7-nAChR expression and function, disease stages, or the use of α7-nAChR agonists, antagonists, or allosteric modulators. In this chapter, we summarize recent progresses in the roles of α7-nAChRs played in AD pathogenesis and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNicotine Use in Mental Illness and Neurological Disorders, 2015
EditorsMariella De Biasi
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780128015834
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742
ISSN (Electronic)2162-5514


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid β peptides
  • Learning and memory deficits
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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