Menthol enhances nicotine reward-related behavior by potentiating nicotine-induced changes in nAChR function, nAChR upregulation, and DA neuron excitability
If you ever used nicotine and menthol in your life or tried our Mint flavor and thought you were getting stronger effects from nicotine than other flavors, you were right! It wasn’t just your mind playing tricks, this study shows there in indeed a strong synergistic effects between menthol and nicotine as menthol shares a few key aspects similar to nicotine. Although to a lesser extent by itself, menthol upregulates nAChR and dopamine neuron excitability. If you are not sure which flavor to try and want a good reason to try a certain flavor, then Mint might be a good choice! It might also be a good choice if you want to decrease your nicotine intake and use menthol as a semi-replacement, or perhaps keep your regular nicotine routine and have it’s effects get a boost without increasing the amount of nicotine! Here are the main findings of the study, full article here. “Thus, chronic menthol produces a cell-type-selective upregulation of α4* nAChRs, complementing that of chronic nicotine alone, which upregulates α4 subunit-containing (α4*) nAChRs in GABAergic but not DA neurons.” “Menthol alone also increases the number of α6β2 receptors that exclude the β3 subunit. Thus, menthol stabilizes lower-sensitivity α4* and α6 subunit-containing nAChRs, possibly by acting as a chemical chaperone.” “We conclude that menthol is more than a tobacco flavorant: administered alone chronically, it alters midbrain DA neurons of the nicotine reward-related pathway.”
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