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Chronic Cigarette Smoking is a Candidate for Induction of Synaptic Changes and Other Neuropathological Alterations in Rats
Posted on: May 29, 2012

Cigarette smoking has been proposed as a major risk factor for aging-related pathological changes and Alzheimer's disease (AD). To date, little is known for how smoking can predispose our brains to dementia or cognitive impairment. This study aimed to investigate the cigarette smoke-induced pathological changes in brains.

Male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were exposed to either sham air or 4% cigarette smoke 1 hour per day for 8 weeks in a ventilated smoking chamber to mimic the situation of chronic passive smoking.

Scientists found that the levels of oxidative stress were significantly increased in the hippocampus of the smoking group. Smoking also affected the synapse through reducing the expression of pre-synaptic proteins including synaptophysin and synapsin-1, while there were no changes in the expression of postsynaptic protein PSD95. Decreased levels of acetylated-tubulin and increased levels of phosphorylated-tau at 231, 205 and 404 epitopes were also observed in the hippocampus of the smoking rats.

These results suggested that axonal transport machinery might be impaired, and the stability of cytoskeleton might be affected by smoking. Moreover, smoking affected amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing by increasing the production of sAPPβ and accumulation of β-amyloid peptide in the CA3 and dentate gyrus region.

In summary, this data suggested that chronic cigarette smoking could induce synaptic changes and other neuropathological alterations. These changes might serve as evidence of early phases of neurodegeneration and may explain why smoking can predispose brains to AD and dementia.

Source: Ho YS, Yang X, Yeung SC, Chiu K, Lau CF, Tsang AW, Mak JC, Chang RC.; Cigarette smoking accelerated brain aging and induced pre-Alzheimer-like neuropathology in rats.; PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36752. Epub 2012 May 11.
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