The study also examined the receptor-level combined effects of opioids (morphine and morphine-related compounds) and nicotine. A receptor is a human protein to which endogenous and exogenous compounds bind. Once the receptors are activated, they trigger a number of intracellular signals. The compounds that bind to a receptor may also alter or turn off the receptor signalling. The present study was conducted using cell lines that express different subtypes of nicotinic receptors. Nicotine attaches to these receptors and activates them.
The results of the research project show that morphine and its related compounds, which normally attach to their own receptors, also bind to nicotinic receptors, causing altered nicotine responses. This provides a possible explanation for the common concurrent use of nicotine and other substances. The results may also pave the way for the development of new medication used to treat both smoking and drug addiction.
The study was conducted as a joint Finnish-Russian project between the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Helsinki, the Saint Petersburg Pavlov Medical University and Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry in Moscow. The project was a concrete example of how people, research and knowledge can transcend national and cultural boundaries. The Finnish part of the project received funding from the Academy of Finland.
More information: Professor Raimo K. Tuominen (principal investigator), University of Helsinki, Faculty of Pharmacy, firstname.lastname(at)Helsinki.fi, and University Lecturer, Adjunct Professor Outi Salminen, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, tel. +358 9 191 59640, firstname.lastname(at)helsinki.fi.
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Chistyakov V, Patkina N, Tammimäki A, Talka R, Salminen O, Belozertseva I, Galankin T, Tuominen RK, Zvartau E (2010) Nicotine exposure throughout early development promotes nicotine self-administration in adolescent mice and induces long-lasting behavioural changes. Eur J Pharmacol, 640 : 87-93
Talka R, Salminen O, Whiteaker P, Lukas RJ, Tuominen RK (2010) Interactions of nicotine, methadone and buprenorphine in 3H-epibatidine-binding and calcium fluorometry in nAChR-containing cell lines.Program No. 236.11 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. San Diego, CA : Society of Neuroscience, 2010, Online