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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jun;1822(6):852-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Feb 12.

Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species mediates nicotine-induced hypoxia-inducible factor-1α expression in human non-small cell lung cancer cells.

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Tianjin Key Laboratory of Lung Cancer Metastasis and Tumor Microenvitoment, Tianjin Lung Cancer Institute, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, China.


Cigarette smoking is not only a documented risk for lung carcinogenesis but also promotes lung cancer development. Nicotine, a major component of cigarette smoke but not a carcinogen by itself, has been found to induce proliferation, invasion and metastasis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here we reported that proinvasive effect of nicotine is analogous to that of hypoxia and involves stabilization and activation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, a key factor in determining the presence of HIF-1 and expression of its downstream metastasis-associated genes. Furthermore, nicotine-induced upregulation of HIF-1α was dependent on mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS). Ecotopic expression of mitochondrial targeted catalase effectively prevented nicotine-induced accumulation of HIF-1α protein. In addition, we demonstrated that the effect of nicotine in upregulation of HIF-1α was mediated by Dihydro-β-erythroidine (DhβE)-sensitive nicotine acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and required synergistic cooperation of Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. These results suggest that exposure to nicotine could mimic effects of hypoxia to stimulate HIF-1α accumulation and activity that might underlie the high metastatic potential of lung cancer.

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