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Curr Drug Targets. 2012 May;13(5):671-9.

α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit in angiogenesis and epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

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  • 1Department of Tumor Biology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Mail Code: SRB3, Tampa, FL 33647, USA.


Cigarette smoking is strongly correlated with many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Nicotine, the main active and addictive component of tobacco smoke has recently been shown to enhance angiogenesis in many experimental systems and animal models. The pro-angiogenic activity of nicotine is mediated by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, particularly the alpha 7 subunit, that are expressed on a variety of non-neuronal cells including those in the vasculature such as endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. The present review focuses on the role of α7nAChR in mediating the pro-angiogenic effects of nicotine and describes the molecular mechanisms involved in nicotine-induced angiogenesis as well as epithelial to mesenchymal transition. These observations on nicotine function highlight the therapeutic potential of α7nAChR agonists and antagonists for combating angiogenesis related diseases.

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