Front. Synaptic Neurosci., 02 August 2012 |

Nicotine exposure during adolescence alters the rules for prefrontal cortical synaptic plasticity during adulthood

  • Department of Integrative Neurophysiology, CNCR, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU University, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The majority of adolescents report to have smoked a cigarette at least once. Adolescence is a critical period of brain development during which maturation of areas involved in cognitive functioning, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), is still ongoing. Tobacco smoking during this age may compromise the normal course of prefrontal development and lead to cognitive impairments in later life. In addition, adolescent smokers suffer from attention deficits, which progress with the years of smoking. Recent studies in rodents reveal the molecular changes induced by adolescent nicotine exposure that alter the functioning of synapses in the PFC and underlie the lasting effects on cognitive function. In particular, the expression and function of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are changed and this has an impact on short- and long-term plasticity of glutamatergic synapses in the PFC and ultimately on the attention performance. Here, we review and discuss these recent findings.

Keywords: adolescence, nicotine, prefrontal cortex, STDP, mGluR, nAChR, cognitive behavior

Citation: Goriounova NA and Mansvelder HD (2012) Nicotine exposure during adolescence alters the rules for prefrontal cortical synaptic plasticity during adulthood. Front. Syn. Neurosci. 4:3. doi: 10.3389/fnsyn.2012.00003

Received: 11 June 2012; Accepted: 16 July 2012;
Published online: 02 August 2012.

Edited by:

Darwin K. Berg, University of California, San Diego, USA

Reviewed by:

William N. Green, University of Chicago, USA
Peter B. Sargent, University of California, San Francisco, USA

Copyright © 2012 Goriounova and Mansvelder. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Huibert D. Mansvelder, Department of Integrative Neurophysiology, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR), Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, Room C-440, 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands. e-mail: