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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):H1518-29. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00928.2010. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

Nicotine aggravates the brain postischemic inflammatory response.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Medical School, Ann Arbor, 48109-0532, USA.


A substantial body of evidence suggests that nicotine adversely affects cerebral blood flow and the blood-brain barrier and is a risk factor for stroke. The present study investigated the effect of nicotine on cerebrovascular endothelium under basal and ischemia/reperfusion injury under in vivo condition. Nicotine (2 mg/kg sc) was administered to mice over 14 days, which resulted in plasma nicotine levels of ∼100 ng/ml, reflecting plasma concentrations in average to heavy smokers. An analysis of the phenotype of isolated brain microvessels after nicotine exposure indicated higher expression of inflammatory mediators, cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-18), chemokines (CCL2 and CX(3)CL1), and adhesion molecules (ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and P-selectins), and this was accompanied by enhanced leukocyte infiltration into brain during ischemia/reperfusion (P < 0.01). Nicotine had a profound effect on ischemia/reperfusion injury; i.e., increased brain infarct size (P < 0.01), worse neurological deficits, and a higher mortality rate. These experiments illuminate, for the first time, how nicotine regulates brain endothelial cell phenotype and postischemic inflammatory response at the brain-vascular interface.

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