Several findings show a neuroprotective effect of nicotine treatment in different experimental models, and a negative correlation has been observed between cigarette smoking and the incidence of Parkinson's disease. It seems possible that nicotine may in part exert its neuroprotective actions by favouring the synthesis of neurotrophic factors. The aim of this study was to determine whether the nicotine treatment could be associated with the induction of a neurotrophic factor in brain regions with nicotinic receptors. Thus, we analysed by in situ hybridization and RNAse protection assay the effects of (-) nicotine on basic fibroblast growth factor messenger RNA and by immunocytochemistry fibroblast growth factor-2 protein in the tel- and diencephalon of rats following single or acute intermittent (-)nicotine treatment. The present results showed that acute intermittent (-)nicotine treatment (four i.p. injections at intervals of 30 min), but not single injections, lead to a substantial and dose-related (0.1-2 mg/kg) up- regulation of fibroblast growth factor-2 messenger RNA levels in the cerebral cortex, in the hippocampus, in the striatum and ventral midbrain. This induction of fibroblast growth factor-2 expression peaked 4 h after the first injection and returned to normal levels within 24 h. The change of fibroblast growth factor-2 messenger RNA levels was associated with increased fibroblast growth factor-2 immunoreactivity mainly localized to nerve cells. The treatment was effective also when repeated in the same animals three or five days after the first injection. The pre-treatment with the non-competitive (- )nicotine receptor antagonist mecamylamine blocked the (-)nicotine effects on fibroblast growth factor-2 messenger RNA levels. In the above areas, no changes were observed in the fibroblast growth factor-1, 2 and 3 receptor messenger RNA levels nor in brain-derived neurotrophic factor messenger RNA levels. The present data indicate an ability of intermittent (-)nicotine to increase fibroblast growth factor-2 in many tel- and diencephalic areas. In view of the trophic function of fibroblast growth factor-2, the previously observed neuroprotective effects of (-)nicotine may at least in part involve an activation of the neuronal fibroblast growth factor-2 signalling, and open up new avenues for treatment of Parkinson's disease and Alzeimer's disease based on the existence of nicotinic receptor subtypes enhancing fibroblast growth factor-2 signalling in many regions of the tel- and diencephalon.
- Basic fibroblast growth factors
- Cerebral cortex
- Gene expression
- Nigrostriatal system
ASJC Scopus subject areas