Molecular mechanisms associated with nicotine pharmacology and dependence

Christie D. Fowler, Jill R. Turner, M. Imad Damaj

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Tobacco dependence is a leading cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. Nicotine, the main psychoactive component in tobacco cigarettes, has also been garnering increased popularity in its vaporized form, as derived from e-cigarette devices. Thus, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying nicotine pharmacology and dependence is required to ascertain novel approaches to treat drug dependence. In this chapter, we review the field’s current understanding of nicotine’s actions in the brain, the neurocircuitry underlying drug dependence, factors that modulate the function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and the role of specific genes in mitigating the vulnerability to develop nicotine dependence. In addition to nicotine’s direct actions in the brain, other constituents in nicotine and tobacco products have also been found to alter drug use, and thus, evidence is provided to highlight this issue. Finally, currently available pharmacotherapeutic strategies are discussed, along with an outlook for future therapeutic directions to achieve to the goal of long-term nicotine cessation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)0171-2004
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0325

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019.


  • Neurobiology nicotine dependence
  • Nicotine
  • Nicotinic receptors
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry


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