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Nicotine. A brief history

Nicotine. A brief history
Nicotine - one of the most paradoxical substances. Despite the obvious damage, smoking was considered a sign of manhood, a way to improve health and athletic performance. Why is this happening, as nicotine can cause cancer, and whether to switch to the electronic cigarette? Let's try to understand.

Nicotine dependence instilled in Russian reformer Peter I. Great carelessly adopts European customs. Since the XVII century, smoking became commonplace in Russia, without which no cost, no one large meeting. Simple as people prefer to smoke shag (Nicotiána rústica), another type of Solanaceae.

Nicotine - an alkaloid that is found in plants of the family Solanaceae (Solanaceae). Plants such as potato, tomato, eggplant, and to a much greater extent synthesize nicotine tobacco for protection against insects. Nicotine is toxic, as is able to block synaptic transmission, affecting the nAChR, which causes paralysis and death of the insect. For this reason, it is based on nicotine insecticides. Unfortunately, nicotine acts in a similar way and human nAChR receptors, causing dependence.

How long have we known each other?

Tobacco is known to mankind for a long time. However, a civilization that has become global as a result, for the time being this plant pass by, as well as all the usual sunflower, potato or tomato. And all because originally all these plants - endemic to the Americas, and the first with tobacco smoking and intake of nicotine introduced into numerous Indian civilization. At least, the first image of smoking Maya for more than two and a half thousand years. It is said that even Columbus threw a bunch of tobacco leaves given to him overboard, without first examining in this plant. But Christopher Columbus was the author of the first "tobacco" name on the world map - the island of Tobago, now - the country of Trinidad and Tobago was named in honor of the plants in one of the Arawak language. In Maya language the word al-sik, denoting the process of smoking, much later entered into many languages of the world in the words "cigars, cigarettes and cigarillos."

We can not say that tobacco was immediately perceived in Europe "with a bang". A member of the crew of "Santa Maria", one of the three ships of Columbus, Rodrigo de Jerez, in 1501 received the Inquisition prison sentence for what they allegedly seized the devil, which resulted in the emission of smoke from his mouth sailor. As you can imagine, simply de Jerez was one of the first European smokers.

The first active promoter of tobacco (but not smoking and sniffing it) became a French scientist and diplomat, Jean Nicot, who was ambassador to Portugal in the 1559-1560-ies. It was he who introduced the custom of snuff at the court of Catherine de Medici, convincing everyone that tobacco sniffing helps with headache and toothache. And that his name gave the name of our hero.

Opening of nicotine

At about the same time with Nicot, in 1572, a pupil of Paracelsus, an alchemist French Jacques Goor published the book «Instruction sur l'herbe petum», which was first mentioned distillation of leaves of tobacco and "tobacco oil." A century later, in 1660, another Frenchman, Nicolas Lefebvre, told in detail how to get nicotine (also not very clean) in the book «Traité de la chymie».

However, for the first time highlight the pure nicotine and show that it is associated with tobacco could act only in 1828, by German chemists Posselt Christian Wilhelm and Karl Ludwig Reimann. For this, they even received the annual prize of the University of Heidelberg for the best work. By the way, that's when it became clear that nicotine - liquid (well we remember about the drop of nicotine). Posselt and Reimann long refused to believe, because all known alkaloids were to chemists crystalline. Check back for a long time, but the result was the same - the nicotine in drops rather than in crystals.

The structure of the nicotine was set too long. "Gross" (S10N14N2) calculated in 1843, but only reached the half-century structure later.

The first murder

Everybody knows that a drop of nicotine can kill a horse. It is difficult to say whether this is so: the LD50 (the dose at which half of the control animals die) nicotine in mice is 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, and for rats - "as much as" 50 milligrams per kilogram of the same. That is, its toxicity even at close to a hundred different kinds of time. It is believed that this human dose is milligram per kilogram of body weight. If we accept that for horses nicotine toxicity is the toxicity to humans, then the fact to kill a horse will need half a gram alkaloid. It must be a very large drop.

However, a person uses a nicotine to kill more than a century and a half. In 1850, Count Hippolyte Bokarme was accused of murdering his brother's wife. Belgian chemist Jean Gervais Stas not only able to prove that the graph poisoned brother in law, but also developed a method of analysis of nicotine, which is used to this day. But back to addiction.

Why are we addicted?

Receptors of nAChR - proteins is very difficult arranged. They are located in the cell membrane. The function of these receptors conducting trench is positively charged ions from the outside into the cells in response to attachment of acetylcholine receptor molecule. Therefore, nAChR receptors belong to the class of so-called ligand-gated ion channels. NAChR receptors are widely distributed in the nervous system, where they are involved in the transmission of signals between neurons and between neuron and muscle fibers during muscle contraction. The molecules of nicotine and acetylcholine have common features, so nicotine is "pretending" acetylcholine and binds to a receptor nAChR. The constant presence of nicotine in the body has a number of unpleasant consequences. On the one hand, it decreases the sensitivity of receptors for nicotine acetylcholine and, on the other hand, the number of receptors in cells increases. Apparently, nicotine plays a role in the reward system, controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. The combination of all of these processes leads to the fact that the sharp rejection of the admission of new doses of nicotine causes discomfort and serves as motivation for the development of addiction.

Does nicotine cause cancer?

For a long time nAChR found only in neurons, and it was believed that nicotine affects exclusively on the nervous system. But over time, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer in smokers was evident. The responsibility lay not so much nicotine as on thousands of chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Of particular prominence gained tobacco-specific nitrosamines carcinogenic NNN and NNK. However, it is now known that there nAChR virtually any body cells, including cancer cells. In addition, there are 12 types of nAChR receptors. Different types of receptor activation is different, and sometimes opposing effects. For example, nAChR α7-type stimulates the growth of cancerous tumors and type nAChR α4β2, conversely, inhibits the growth of tumor cells. Unfortunately, chronic exposure to nicotine results in time for the inactivation of nAChR α4β2-type. Molecular causes of this are probably a stronger affinity for nicotine receptor compared with acetylcholine. Thus, the development of cancer can cause disruption of the natural balance of intercellular communication in which our receptors are involved. As for the carcinogenic nitrosamines NNN and NNK, they can cause even greater imbalance since the display of hundreds and thousands of times greater affinity for the receptor than acetylcholine.

Electronics rescue from cancer?

Several years ago, the tobacco market a new product - electronic cigarettes. At first, they were positioned as a way to get rid of nicotine addiction, but as a result became a popular new way to deliver nicotine to the body, creating a subculture of vapers. It is often possible to meet the approval of the full, 100% safety "hover" and nicotine. In fact this is not true. Studies have found that although the electronic cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco, talk about total security is not necessary for health. First, nicotine itself, as mentioned above, can lead to the development of cancer. Secondly, polypropylene contained in the e-liquid when heated forms carcinogenic propylene oxide, which, incidentally, is used in the manufacture of plastics, solvents and detergents. Third, electronic cigarettes detected as tobacco-specific nitrosamines NNK and NNN, albeit in much smaller quantities than in conventional cigarettes. The danger is the fact that the market of electronic cigarettes and related substances is not particularly regulated.