Changing nicotine dependence through optogenetics

Researchers at the Paris-Seine Neuroscience Laboratory at IBPS1 have managed to control the activity of nicotinic receptors in the mouse brain via a nano-switch that reacts to light. These results were obtained in collaboration with the Institut Pasteur, the University of New York and the University of California Berkeley and published in the journal eLife2.

Nicotine leads to the release of dopamine, a key element in the development of nicotine addiction. The researchers modified a nicotinic receptor in vivo specifically in a dopaminergic nucleus in mice by hanging a nano-switch that reacts to light. They showed that when nicotine can no longer bind to the receptor (under violet light), mice are no longer attracted to nicotine. This study shows that it is possible to reversibly and rapidly modify the preference for nicotine in mice.

The technology implemented makes it possible to better understand "the role of different nicotinic receptors and different neuronal pathways in the establishment and maintenance of nicotine addiction, but also in the processes of lack and relapse", explains Alexandre Mourot, who led this study.

This technology is expected to validate hypotheses and identify therapeutic targets for the fight against nicotine addiction.

This research was the subject of a press release from Inserm and the CNRS.


1Team Neurophysiology and behavior

2Manipulating midbrain dopamine neurons and reward-related behaviors with light controllable nicotinic acetylcholine receptors Romain Durand-de Cuttoli, Sarah Mondoloni, Fabio Marti, Damien Lemoine, Claire Nguyen, Jérémie Naudé, Thibaut d’Izarny-Gargas, Stéphanie Pons, Uwe Maskos, Dirk Trauner, Richard H. Kramer, Philippe Faure and Alexandre Mourot, eLIFE, 2018 sept. 4.