Nicotinic Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment

  • Edward D. Levin
    Address correspondence to Edward D. Levin, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Triangle Biotechnology Center, Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory, DUMC Box 104790, 323 Foster St, Durham, NC 27710
    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
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      Nicotine is not native to the human nervous system, but nicotinic receptors certainly are. Nicotine is the prototypic agonist for one of the two principal subtypes of acetylcholine receptors. Nicotinic receptors are critical for a wide variety of neurobehavioral functions, including muscle movement (with actions in the neuromuscular junction), sympathetic and parasympathetic responsivity (with actions in the autonomic ganglia), cognitive function (with actions in the hippocampus and frontal cortex), emotional function (with actions in the amygdala), and reward (with actions in the ventral tegmental area). Nicotine is notorious as the primary (but not only) psychoactive chemical in tobacco. Nicotine self-administration is an essential component of tobacco addiction. However, like other drugs with abuse liability, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, nicotinic drugs may have useful therapeutic applications. The article by Potter et al. (
      • Potter A.S.
      • Dunbar G.
      • Mazzulla E.
      • Hosford D.
      • Newhouse P.A.
      AZD3480, a novel nicotinic receptor agonist, for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults.
      ) in this issue describes the efficacy of a novel nicotinic agonist AZD3480 in reducing an array of cognitive and emotional symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
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