Background: Aging is a common and inevitable stage in the life cycle of higher organisms.
Different organs, including the central nervous system, are affected by aging in different ways.
Many processes are involved in aging, and neurodegeneration is one of the aging processes in which
the central nervous system is engaged. Brain degeneration during normal aging underlies cognitive
disorders experienced by older people. Not all molecular mechanisms associated with age-related
neurodegeneration are fully understood; however, there is a whole range of data on the participation
of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the processes of aging and neurodegeneration. Two main subtypes
of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α7 and α4β2 present in the central nervous system are affected
by these processes. The loss of these receptor subtypes during normal aging is one of the reasons
for the cognitive impairments. The decrease in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors is also very important
for the pathogenesis of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, the drugs enhancing receptor
functions may be considered promising for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in the aged
Conclusion: To achieve healthy longevity, the molecular processes that occur during aging should be
established. In this regard, the participation and role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain
aging and degeneration are considered in this review.
Keywords: Aging, brain, imaging, ligand binding, neurodegeneration, neuron, neurotransmission, nicotinic acetylcholine
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