The nicotinergic receptor as a target for cognitive enhancement in schizophrenia : barking up the wrong tree?
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Psychopharmacology. - Berlin
, p. 543-550
University of Antwerp
Rationale Cognitive symptoms have increasingly been recognized as an important target in the development of future treatment strategies in schizophrenia. The nicotinergic neurotransmission system has been suggested as a potentially interesting treatment target for these cognitive deficits. However, previous research yielded conflicting results, which may be explained by several methodological limitations, such as the failure to include both a group of smoking and non-smoking schizophrenic patients, the use of only a single nicotine dose, and the inclusion of a very limited cognitive battery. Objectives The present study aims at investigating the cognitive effects of nicotine in schizophrenia while addressing these methodological issues. Methods In a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized crossover design, cognitive effects are assessed in smoking (n = 16) and non-smoking (n = 16) schizophrenic patients after receiving active (1 or 2 mg) or placebo oromucosal nicotine spray. Results A modest improving effect of nicotine on attention in the smoking but not the non-smoking group was found. No enhancing effects were found on measures of visual memory, working memory, processing speed, psychomotor speed, or social cognitive functioning in either patient group. Conclusions These findings suggest that the nicotinic receptor only has limited value as a cognitive treatment target in schizophrenia.