Nicotine restores wt-like levels of reelin and GAD67 gene expression in brain of heterozygous reeler mice

Emilia Romano, Andrea Fuso, Giovanni Laviola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Important reduction of reelin, a neural development- and plasticity-associated protein, and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) are reported in brains of schizophrenic patients. These individuals are consistently engaged in tobacco smoking and nicotine is thought to alleviate negative behavioral symptoms or cognitive alterations. In mouse brain, nicotine has been shown to reduce GAD67 promoter methylation and increase its transcription. We assessed the effects of administration of nicotine (1 mg/kg s.c.) for 6 days, in male mice heterozygous for reelin (HRM), a putative model for symptoms related to schizophrenia. Expression of reelin, GAD67 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was measured in different brain areas. RNA expression analysis evidenced genotype-related changes, with a marked reduction in reelin and GAD67 gene expression in prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, and striatum from HRM. Nicotine treatment selectively reversed the HRM-related phenotype in most brain areas and increased BDNF gene expression in cortex and hippocampus of both genotypes. Locomotor performance in their home cage revealed that HRM subjects were characterized by general hyperactivity; with nicotine administration restoring WT-like levels of locomotion. These findings are interpreted within the hypothesis of pre-existing vulnerability (based on haploinsufficiency of reelin) to brain and behavioral disorders and regulative effects associated with nicotine exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-215
Number of pages11
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Animal models
  • BDNF
  • GAD67
  • Nicotine
  • Reelin
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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