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Clin Exp Immunol. 2006 Oct;146(1):116-23.

Nicotine inhibits the production of proinflammatory mediators in human monocytes by suppression of I-kappaB phosphorylation and nuclear factor-kappaB transcriptional activity through nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha7.

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Department of Immunology and Medicine, Institute of Advanced Medical Science, St Marianna Graduate School of Medicine, Kawasaki, Japan.


Macrophages/monocytes and the proinflammatory mediators, such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha and MIP-1alpha, play a critical role in the progression of immunological disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, Behçet's disease and Crohn's disease. In addition, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-alpha7 (alpha7nAChR) subunit is an essential regulator of inflammation. In this study, we evaluated the expression of the alpha7nAChR subunit on human peripheral monocytes and the effect of nicotine on the production of these proinflammatory mediators by activated monocytes. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled alpha-bungarotoxin demonstrated the cell surface expression of the alpha7nAchR subunit. Pretreatment with low-dose nicotine caused inhibition of TNF-alpha, PGE(2), MIP-1alpha and MIP-1alpha production, and mRNA expression of TNF-alpha, MIP-1alpha and MIP-1alpha and COX-2 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated monocytes. These suppressive effects of nicotine were caused at the transcriptional level and were mediated through alpha7nAChR. Nicotine suppressed the phosphorylation of I-kappaB, and then inhibited the transcriptional activity of nuclear factor-kappaB. These immunosuppressive effects of nicotine may contribute to the regulation of some immune diseases.

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