Alpha7 nicotinic receptors as novel therapeutic targets for inflammation-based diseases

Merouane Bencherif, Patrick M. Lippiello, Rudolf Lucas, Mario B. Marrero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


In recent years the etiopathology of a number of debilitating diseases such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, atherosclerosis, psoriasis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, sepsis, and ulcerative colitis has increasingly been linked to runaway cytokine-mediated inflammation. Cytokine-based therapeutic agents play a major role in the treatment of these diseases. However, the temporospatial changes in various cytokines are still poorly understood and attempts to date have focused on the inhibition of specific cytokines such as TNF-α. As an alternative approach, a number of preclinical studies have confirmed the therapeutic potential of targeting alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-mediated anti-inflammatory effects through modulation of proinflammatory cytokines. This "cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway" modulates the immune system through cholinergic mechanisms that act on alpha7 receptors expressed on macrophages and immune cells. If the preclinical findings translate into human efficacy this approach could potentially provide new therapies for treating a broad array of intractable diseases and conditions with inflammatory components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-949
Number of pages19
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Acetylcholine
  • Alpha7
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Nicotinic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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