Alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor: A link between inflammation and neurodegeneration

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Abstract

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia affecting over 25 million people worldwide. Classical studies focused on the description and characterization of the pathological hallmarks found in AD patients including the neurofibrillary tangles and the amyloid plaques. Current strategies focus on the etiology of these hallmarks and the different mechanisms contributing to neurodegeneration. Among them, recent studies reveal the close interplay between the immunological and the neurodegenerative processes. This article examines the implications of the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (alpha7nAChR) as a critical link between inflammation and neurodegeneration in AD. Alpha7nAChRs are not only expressed in neurons but also in Glia cells where they can modulate the immunological responses contributing to AD. Successful therapeutic strategies against AD should consider the connections between inflammation and neurodegeneration. Among them, alpha7nAChR may represent a pharmacological target to control these two mechanisms during the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and behavioral disorders.

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