Tag Archives: substance addiction

Are You an Ex-Smoking Nazi?

According to Jellinek Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands abstract smoking dependence fits the criteria given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders system, version IV (DSM IV),1 grading dependence and addiction to a substance (Table 28-1)

Today when I was out and about town I witnessed an individual standing near an ashtray attempting to get a few last puffs off her cigarette. The location of the ashtray was approximately twenty feet away from the door of a local business, and the smoker was in compliance regarding the location of where she could smoke.

Nearby I heard another lady dramatically coughing while turning her nose up in disgust and obviously intolerant of the situation. I overheard her teenage daughter sarcastically retort, “Who are you to speak? You smoked at home for twelve years!”

According to this report most smokers do want to quit smoking. That this is not always an easy task can be attributed to the fact that dependence plays an important role.

Nicotine dependence meets all criteria of addiction. The use is compulsive, it is hard to quit even when there is clear damage, withdrawal symptoms appear when stopping, and there is always a risk of falling back when trying to quit a chronic behavior.

Smoking dependence is not much different than substance addiction.

nazi.jpgI want to tell this lady to drop the smoking Nazi bullshit and get angry with the tobacco industry and those who knowingly support it.

I would also like to tell her to get proactive with local/global legislation and tobacco education because she will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If tobacco education is free and accessible then generations of nicotine addicts and their children will be able to become reeducated.

Why quit sums it up quite elegantly: Education Destroys Dependency Ignorance.

Jellinek Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands abstract

Nicotine Rush Hinges on Sugar in Neurons

Science Daily – When nicotine binds to a neuron, how does the cell know to send the signal that announces a smoker’s high? As with other questions involving good sensations, the answer appears to be sugar.

A University of Southern California study appearing with a commentary in Nature Neuroscience online proposes a role for sugar as the hinge that opens a gate in the cell membrane and brings news of nicotine’s arrival.

Structural biologist Raymond Stevens of The Scripps Research Institute, who was not involved in the study, called it “a landmark accomplishment for the fields of structural biology and neuronal cell signaling.”

Besides substance addiction, Stevens pointed to epilepsy, schizophrenia and depression as targets for improved drugs that could result from the study’s findings.The study provides the first detailed look at part of the mouse nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), one in a large and important group of molecules, known as ion channel proteins, that allow signals to pass between neurons.

brain2.jpgThe results reveal an important role for the sugar molecules in such proteins.

“Our studies fill a major gap in the field and set a new paradigm,” said Lin Chen, associate professor of molecular and computational biology at USC.

Many existing theories, which do not consider sugar’s role, are probably incomplete, Chen said.

The debate over how signals pass from the outside of a cell to the inside is a long-standing one.

Some researchers had suggested that when a chemical such as nicotine binds to an ion channel protein on the cell surface, the protein starts a “conformational wave” that propagates a signal through the protein body to the cell membrane, Chen said.

But the molecular basis of such a wave in nAChR or any other protein has not been clearly established.

Instead, the Chen group’s study of crystal structure suggested a simple mechanical role for sugar molecules attached to the surface of the receptor.

“They serve as the link between the neurotransmitter binding site and the membrane region where the gate is located,” Chen said.

“The sugar is kind of like a hinge. It’s pulling the door open and closed.”

Cutting the sugar chains stopped the gate’s operation, according to Chen, who said, “The sugar is critical, in my opinion.”

The researchers also found a water molecule deep in the receptor’s core — significant because proteins normally are filled with hydrophobic (water repellent) matter that helps the structure hold its shape, Chen said.

The water molecule may enable the receptor to alter its shape in counterbalance to the bending hinge, said Chen, who explained, “Think of it as a lubricant.”

Previously studied “homologs” of nAChR — proteins that share its structure but not its signaling function — are entirely hydrophobic, Chen said, supporting the theory that the buried water molecule plays a functional role.

Chen called the group’s Nature Neuroscience study “one of the few times that you felt that you connected the dots.”

The study also represents a tour de force of protein crystallography. Homologs of nAChR had been studied at the atomic scale, but not the receptor itself.

The corresponding authors were Chen and Zuo-Zhong Wang, associate professor of neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Cosma Dellisanti, research associate in molecular and computational biology at USC, was first author. The other co-authors were Yun Yao of the Keck School and James Stroud of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Funding for the research came from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Southern California.

Reported from Science Daily