Stimulation of Lateral Hypothalamic Glutamate and Acetylcholine Efflux By Nicotine: Implications for Mechanisms of Nicotine-Induced Activation of Orexin Neurons


Pasumarthi, R. K., & Fadel, J. (2010). Stimulation of lateral hypothalamic glutamate and acetylcholine efflux by nicotine: implications for mechanisms of nicotine‐induced activation of orexin neurons. Journal of neurochemistry, 113(4), 1023-1035.


The hypothalamus is a prominent target of nicotine action. We have previously shown that acute systemic nicotine treatment induces Fos expression in the lateral hypothalamus and perifornical area (LH/PFA), with orexin/hypocretin neurons being particularly responsive. However, the neurochemical correlates of acute nicotine treatment in the LH/PFA have not been described. Anatomical studies have revealed that this area receives afferents from cholinergic, glutamatergic, and GABAergic telencephalic brain regions, suggesting a potential role for these neurotransmitters in mediating the hypothalamic component of nicotine effects on homeostatic phenomena, such as arousal and appetite. Here, we used in vivo microdialysis to determine the effect of acute systemic or local nicotine on glutamate, acetylcholine, and GABA efflux in the LH/PFA of rats. Local administration of nicotine significantly increased acetylcholine and glutamate, but not GABA, in the LH/PFA. Thus, we further tested the role of afferent sources of glutamate and acetylcholine in mediating acute nicotine-induced activation of orexin neurons by unilaterally lesioning the prefrontal cortex or basal forebrain cholinergic regions. Lesioned animals showed reduced Fos-positive orexin neurons following nicotine treatment. These data suggest that both acetylcholine and glutamate may mediate the effects of acute nicotine on the activity of hypothalamic neurons, including orexin/hypocretin cells. Changes in cholinergic or glutamatergic transmission in this region with chronic nicotine may contribute to long-term alterations in functions mediated by LH/PFA neurons, including feeding and arousal.

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