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

Antonella De Jaco, Laura Bernardini, Jessica Rosati, Ada Maria Tata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The α7 nicotinic receptor consists of identical subunits and is one of the most abundant acetylcholine receptor 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. Its function is involved in the regulation of a range of activities such as classical excitatory neurotransmission in some brain regions, modulation of the release of several neurotransmitters, regulation of neurite outgrowth, and even neuronal survival/death. Moreover, since its expression was found in brain areas that underlie learning and memory, it can play important roles in regulating cognitive functions. The α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor plays also an important role during development in the modulation of 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. Here we review the physiological and pathological roles of α7 nicotinic receptor in different nervous system disorders and the current therapeutic strategies developed to target selectively this receptor for potentiating or reducing its functions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCentral Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 29 2016


  • Journal Article


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