Age-specific impacts of nicotine and withdrawal on hippocampal neuregulin signalling

Jack Keady, Miranda Fisher, Erin Anderson, Rachel LeMalefant, Jill Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with 87% of smokers starting before the age of 18. Age of initiation is a major predictive factor for smoking frequency and successful smoking cessation. People who initiate smoking during adolescences are 2.33 times more likely to become heavy smokers and half as likely to quit compared with smokers who started during adulthood. Additionally, schizophrenia, a disease state linked to altered neurodevelopment during adolescence, is a major predictive factor for smoking status. Smoking rates among people suffering from schizophrenia are between 60% and 90%. Interestingly, the Neuregulin Signalling Pathway (NSP), which plays an important role in neurodevelopment, is implicated in both schizophrenia and nicotine use disorder. Specifically, SNPS in neuregulin 3 (Nrg3) and Erb-B2 Receptor Tyrosine Kinase 4 (ErbB4) have been associated with smoking cessation outcomes and schizophrenia. Here, we examine the effects of chronic nicotine (18 mg/kg/day) and 24-h withdrawal on NSP gene expression in the hippocampus of adult (20-week-old) and adolescent (4-week-old) mice. We show that withdrawal from chronic nicotine decreased the expression of Erbb4 mRNA in the hippocampus of the adult mice but increased the expression of cytosolic Erbb4 protein in adolescent mice. Nrg3 mRNA and protein expression was not altered by chronic nicotine or withdrawal in the adult or adolescent cohorts, but Nrg3 mRNA and synaptosomal protein expression was lower in the adult withdrawal group when compared with their adolescent counterparts. These results highlight the age-specific effects of nicotine withdrawal on the NSP and may contribute to the lower quit rate and higher cigarette consumption of smokers who initiation during adolescences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4705-4719
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded through National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) grant R01DA044311.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • development
  • hippocampus
  • neuregulins
  • receptor, ErbB-2
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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