CEXS-UPF: Quitting smoking causes changes in memory and an attention deficit

CEXS-UPF: Quitting smoking causes changes in memory and an attention deficit

News from CEXS-UPF

Tobacco use is the major preventable cause of premature death worldwide, being therefore a global health problem. It is estimated that currently 22.5% of adults (32% of men and 7% of women) smoke tobacco. Despite the known harm associated with tobacco, only 5% of the smokers who try to quit on their own hold abstinence during the first six months and around 50-75% of "former smokers" fail during the first week of trying.

Quitting smoking also causes many unwanted effects, including physical symptoms, as well as emotional and cognitive alterations. Among the most common are cognitive deficits in attention and memory disturbances. Until now it was not know what was the cause of cognitive impairment associated with the cessation of nicotine consumption. Now, a study led by Fernando Berrendero, principal investigator of the Laboratory of Neuropharmacology at CEXS-UPF (NeuroPhar) has discovered a link between neuronal receptor CB1R and cognitive deficits associated with quitting.

The endocannabinoid system consists of endogenous ligands capable of activating a network of receptors that regulate neuronal processes of reward, learning and memory, among others. In addition, it was observed that this system plays an important role in nicotine addiction. The neuronal receptor CB1R belongs to the endocannabinoid system and, according to the results of this research, is primarily responsible for the failures in memory and attention due to the nicotine withdrawal.

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Rocio Saravia, África Flores, Ainhoa Plaza-Zabala, Arnau Busquets-García, Antoni Pastor, Rafael de la Torre, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Giovanni Marsicano, Andrés Ozaita, Rafael Maldonado, Fernando Berrendero. CB1 Cannabinoid Receptors Mediate Cognitive Deficits and Structural Plasticity Changes During Nicotine Withdrawal. Biological Psychiatry, Julio 2016.