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Neurosci Lett. 2000 May 12;285(2):91-4.

Protective effect of nicotine through nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 7 on hypoxia-induced membrane disintegration and DNA fragmentation of cultured PC12 cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Iwate Medical University, Uchimaru 19-1, Morioka, Iwate, Japan.


To investigate the effect of nicotine on hypoxic neuronal damage, cultured PC12 cells were exposed to hypoxia for 9 h and then reoxygenated for 72 h. The cells were stained by propidium iodide (PI), a marker of cell membrane disintegration and the TUNEL method, which indicates DNA fragmentation. In control cultures, the ratio of PI-positive cells to total cells progressively increased during and after exposure to hypoxia, constituting 39% of total cells at 72 h posthypoxia. This increase in PI-positive cells was completely inhibited by nicotine until 12 h posthypoxia, and was partially and dose-dependently inhibited thereafter. The ratio of TUNEL-positive cells to total cells started to increase at 24 h posthypoxia and reached 36% at 72 h in control cultures. This ratio was also dose-dependently inhibited by nicotine. These inhibitory effects of nicotine on the increase in PI-positive and TUNEL-positive cells were abolished by the addition to the medium of alpha-bungarotoxin, an antagonistic ligand for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) alpha7. These findings suggest that nicotine inhibits, through AChR alpha7, hypoxia-induced cell membrane disintegration and DNA fragmentation of cultured PC12 cells exposed to hypoxia.

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