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 journalReview articlepeer-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. It is involved in the regulation of several activities ranging from excitatory neurotransmission and 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 its 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. 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
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalCentral Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Neurological disorders
  • Nicotinic receptors
  • Schizophrenia
  • α-7 subunits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Molecular Medicine


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