Targeting the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in astrocytes as a potential therapeutic target in Parkinson’s disease
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a relatively common disorder of the Central Nervous System (CNS), whose etiology is characterized by a selective and progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, and the presence of Lewy bodies in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra, and gaping dopamine depletion in the striatum. Patients with this disease suffer from tremors, slowness of movements, gait instability, and rigidity. These patients may also present functional disability, reduced quality of life, and rapid cognitive decline. It has been shown that nicotine exerts beneficial effects in patients with PD and in in-vitro and in-vivo models of this disease. Astrocytes are an important component in the immune response associated with PD, and that nicotine might be able to inhibit the inflammation-related apoptosis of these cells, being this a potential strategy for PD treatment. This action of nicotine could be due mainly to activation of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7-nAChRs) expressed in glial cells. However, nicotine administration can protect dopaminergic neurons against degeneration by inhibiting astrocytes activation in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and therefore reduce inflammation. Owing to the toxicity and capacity of nicotine to induce addiction, analogues of this substance have been designed and tested in various experimental paradigms, and targeting α7-nAChRs expressed in glial cells may be a novel therapeutic strategy for PD treatment. © 2016 Bentham Science Publishers.
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