2010 Volume 112 Issue 3 Pages 265-272
We have previously shown that chronic donepezil treatment induces nicotinic acetylcholine receptor up-regulation and enhances the sensitivity of the neurons to the neuroprotective effect of donepezil. Further analyses revealed that the nicotinic receptor is involved in this enhancement. In this study, we examined whether nicotinic receptor stimulation is sufficient to make neurons more sensitive to donepezil. We treated primary cultures of rat cortical neurons with nicotine and confirmed that chronic nicotine treatment induced nicotinic receptor up-regulation and made the neurons more sensitive to the neuroprotective effects of donepezil. Analyses with receptor antagonists and kinase inhibitors revealed that the effects of chronic nicotine treatment are mediated by nicotinic receptors and their downstream effectors including phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. In contrast to chronic donepezil treatment that enhanced the level of nicotine-induced Ca2+ influx, chronic nicotine treatment did not significantly alter the level of Ca2+ influx.