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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2010, Article ID 548913, 11 pages
Review Article

Brain Imaging of Nicotinic Receptors in Alzheimer's Disease

Division of Clinical Neuroscience, Center for Forensic Mental Health, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana Chiba 260-8670, Japan

Received 30 October 2010; Accepted 8 December 2010

Academic Editor: Adam S. Fleisher

Copyright © 2010 Jin Wu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are a family of ligand-gated ion channels which are widely distributed in the human brain. Several lines of evidence suggest that two major subtypes (α4β2 and α7) of nAChRs play an important role in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Postmortem studies demonstrated alterations in the density of these subtypes of nAChRs in the brain of patients with AD. Currently, nAChRs are one of the most attractive therapeutic targets for AD. Therefore, several researchers have made an effort to develop novel radioligands that can be used to study quantitatively the distribution of these two subtypes in the human brain with positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). In this paper, we discuss the current topics on in vivo imaging of two subtypes of nAChRs in the brain of patients with AD.