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Alpha-7 Nicotinic Receptors in Nervous System Disorders: From Function to Therapeutic Perspectives

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 2 ]


Antonella De Jaco, Laura Bernardini, Jessica Rosati and Ada Maria Tata   Pages 100 - 108 ( 9 )


Background: The α7 nicotinic receptor consists of identical subunits and is one of the most abundant acetylcholine receptors in the mammalian central nervous system. However its expression is also found in the peripheral nervous system as well as in the immune system and various peripheral tissues.

Nicotinic Receptors: They are involved in the regulation of several activities ranging from excitatory neurotransmission, the modulation of the release of several neurotransmitters, regulation of neurite outgrowth, and even neuronal survival/death. Its expression is found in brain areas that underlie learning and memory, suggesting their involvement in regulating cognitive functions. The α7-nicotinic receptor has a strategic role during development in regulating molecular pathways activated during neurogenesis. Because of its pleiotropic effects, receptor dysfunction or dysregulated expression is found in pathophysiological conditions of the nervous system including neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Conclusion: Here we review the physiological and pathological roles of alpha-7 nicotinic receptor in different nervous system disorders and the current therapeutic strategies developed to target selectively this receptor for potentiating or reducing its functions.


Alzheimer's, autism, intellectual disabilities, neurological disorders, nicotinic receptors, schizophrenia, α-7 subunits.


Department of Biology and Biotechnologies C. Darwin, Research Center of Neurobiology Daniel Bovet, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Cytogenetics Laboratory, iPS-Cellular Reprogramming Unit, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Hospital, IRCCS, San Giovanni, Rotondo and Mendel Institut, Rome, Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie Charles Darwin, Centro di ricerca in Neurobiologia Daniel Bovet “Sapienza”, Università di Roma, P.le A. Moro, 5-00185 Roma

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