Varenicline is a partial nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, designed to partially activate this system while displacing nicotine at its sites of action in the brain. Varenicline is an alpha-4 beta-2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist. The drug shows high selectiviyty for this receptor subclass, relative to other nicotinic receptors (>500-fold alpha-3 beta-4, >3500-fold alpha-7, >20,000-fold alpha-1 beta gamma delta) or non-nicotinic receptors and transporters (>2000-fold). The drug competitively inhibits the ability of nicotine to bind to and activate the alpha-4 beta-2 receptor. The drug exerts mild agonistic activity at this site, though at a level much lower than nicotine; it is presumed that this activation eases withdrawal symptoms. Varenicline is sold under the trade name Chantix and Champix, it is indicated for use as an aid to smoking cessation treatment. NCATS
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