Smoking turns receptor on and off
Cigarette smoking turns on and then inactivates brain receptors that are critical to the effectiveness of antidepressants, according to a study published by Yale scientists in Biological Psychiatry last fall.
Finding a way to manipulate those receptors could make antidepressants work more quickly—most now take up to three weeks to bring emotional relief. “This finding has implications for those patients who are depressed to the point of being suicidal and for the 30 percent of people who are not responsive to antidepressants that are now available,” said Marina R. Picciotto, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and neurobiology, and senior author of the study.
The next step, Picciotto said, will be to study the role of these nicotine receptors, nAChRs, in regulating behavioral and cellular responses to antidepressants. The receptors may have a direct effect in mediating responses or they may act indirectly, by modulating neurotransmission in other cell types.
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