What triggers nicotine dependency? Revealing study

Nicotine is a major addictive component in cigarettes, scientists said. However, how chemical dependency results from nicotine's interaction with brain cells still largely stumps the experts. Now a group of researchers, led by Caltech and working with mice, has identified a single molecule that may be enough to trigger common hallmarks of nicotine addiction such as pleasure response and built-up &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/360/14476_smoking.html' target=_blank>tolerance to nicotine.

The group's findings, published in the current issue of the journal Science, suggest the possibility of more effective addiction patches or other therapies &to=http://english.pravda.ru/fun/2002/03/15/27013.html' target=_blank>to help smokers kick the habit.

"The study points to two ways that might help us to attack nicotine addiction,' said Henry Lester, a Caltech biology professor and one of the study's authors, reports Pasadena Star-News.

According to The Miami Herald, in humans, reward arrives as a pleasant little jolt of dopamine, a calming brain chemical unleashed by nicotine. The body's tolerance for the drug leads to more smoking. Sensitization means not feeling good without a nicotine fix, said Henry Lester, a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology who was among the paper's 10 authors. Researchers observed mice chosing nicotine hits over salt, changed body temperatures as evidence of tolerance and more running around among sensitized mice.

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