Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) are often used as a model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to investigate the effects of hypertension on cognitive function. Further, they appear to have reduced numbers of central nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and, therefore, may be useful to model certain aspects of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other forms of dementia given that a decrease in nAChRs is thought to contribute to cognitive decline in these disorders. In the present study, based on reports that chronic nicotine exposure increases nAChRs in several mammalian models, we tested the hypothesis that repeated exposures to a relatively low dose of the alkaloid would ameliorate the receptor deficits in SHR. Thus, young-adult SHRs and age-matched Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) control rats were treated with either saline or nicotine twice a day for 14 days (total daily dose = 0.7 mg/kg nicotine base) and then sacrificed. Quantitative receptor autoradiography with [ 125I]-IPH, an epibatidine analog, revealed: (1) that high-affinity nAChRs were higher in saline-treated WKY (control) rats compared to saline-treated SHRs in 18 of the 19 brain region measured, although statistically different only in the mediodorsal thalamic nuclei, (2) that nicotine significantly increased nAChR binding in WKY rats in six brain areas including cortical regions and the anterior thalamic nucleus, (3) that there were no cases where nicotine significantly increased nAChR binding in SHRs. These results indicate that subjects deficient in nAChRs may be less sensitive to nAChR upregulation with nicotine than normal subjects and require higher doses or longer periods of exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas