Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 as a potential target for smoking cessation

Cristiano Chiamulera (Lead / Corresponding author), Claudio Marcello Marzo, David J. K. Balfour

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    301 Downloads (Pure)


    Rationale: Most habitual smokers find it difficult to quit smoking because they are dependent upon the nicotine present in tobacco smoke. Tobacco dependence is commonly treated pharmacologically using nicotine replacement therapy or drugs, such as varenicline, that target the nicotinic receptor. Relapse rates, however, remain high, and there remains a need to develop novel non-nicotinic pharmacotherapies for the dependence that are more effective than existing treatments.

    Objective: The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence from preclinical and clinical studies that drugs that antagonise the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) in the brain are likely to be efficacious as treatments for tobacco dependence.

    Results: Imaging studies reveal that chronic exposure to tobacco smoke reduces the density of mGluR5s in human brain. Preclinical results demonstrate that negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) at mGluR5 attenuate both nicotine self-administration and the reinstatement of responding evoked by exposure to conditioned cues paired with nicotine delivery. They also attenuate the effects of nicotine on brain dopamine pathways implicated in addiction.

    Conclusions: Although mGluR5 NAMs attenuate most of the key facets of nicotine dependence, they potentiate the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. This may limit their value as smoking cessation aids. The NAMs that have been employed most widely in preclinical studies of nicotine dependence have too many "off-target" effects to be used clinically. However, newer mGluR5 NAMs have been developed for clinical use in other indications. Future studies will determine if these agents can also be used effectively and safely to treat tobacco dependence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1357-1370
    Number of pages14
    Issue number9-10
    Early online date16 Nov 2016
    Publication statusPublished - May 2017


    • Tobacco addiction
    • mGluR5
    • Negative allosteric modulator
    • Nicotine self-administration
    • Cue-evoked relapse
    • Smoking cessation
    • Memory reconsolidation


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