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Researchers find link between nicotine addiction and autism
Date:11/17/2008

hat neurexin-1 and nicotinic receptors tangle. So we knew that there was a genetic link to the process leading to synapse formation, and we had nicotinic receptors that had disappeared in the brains of autistic patients. Our finding filled a gap by saying there is a physical and functional association between these two things occurring in the brain."

Neurexin has implications for tobacco addicts, as well, Anand said. Yet another group of researchers recently found that people with a mutation in the neurexin-1 gene were more likely to be smokers, meaning changes in the gene's functions that lead to excess levels of the nicotinic receptors might make people more susceptible to nicotine addiction.

"Our research reveals how changes in the functions of neurexin could affect the guidance of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to their functional destinations in nerve cells, perhaps increasing receptors in tobacco addicts while decreasing them in autistic individuals, thus increasing susceptibility to these devastating neurological disorders," Anand said.

The finding also has implications for nicotine addiction because drugs known to alter neurexin's guidance of nicotinic receptors within nerve cells could be used to suppress tobacco addiction.


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Contact: Rene Anand
rene.anand@osumc.edu
614-292-1380
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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