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Mol Pharmacol. 2013 Jan;83(1):61-72. doi: 10.1124/mol.112.081497. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Identification and characterization of poly(I:C)-induced molecular responses attenuated by nicotine in mouse macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences University of Virginia 1670 Discovery Drive, Suite 110, Charlottesville, VA 22911, USA.


To further our understanding of the effects of nicotine on the molecular responses of macrophages during virus or virus-like infections, poly(I:C)-stimulated macrophage-like RAW264.2 cells or mouse primary peritoneal macrophages were challenged with nicotine; and their molecular responses were evaluated using a qRT-PCR array, antibody array, ELISA, Western blotting, and Ca(2+) imaging. Of 51 genes expressed in the Toll-like receptor (TLR) and RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) pathways, mRNA expression of 15 genes in RAW264.7 cells was attenuated by nicotine, of which mRNA expression of IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β was confirmed to be attenuated in peritoneal macrophages. Concurrently, nicotine treatment attenuated the release of IL-6 and TNF-α from poly(I:C)-stimulated macrophages. However, when poly(I:C)-stimulated macrophages were challenged with nicotine plus α-bungarotoxin (α-BTX), secretion of IL-6 and TNF-α was found to be in a level seen with poly(I:C) stimulation only, indicating that α7-nAChR, a highly Ca(2+) permeable ion channel sensitive to blockade by α-BTX, is involved in this process. Furthermore, results from an antibody array indicated that nicotine treatment attenuated the phosphorylation of 82 sites, including Thr286 on CaMKIIα, from poly(I:C)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells, of which 28 are expressed in the downstream cascade of Ca(2+) signaling. Coincidentally, poly(I:C)-stimulated macrophages showed attenuated expression of phosphorylated CaMKIIα when pretreated with nicotine. In addition, nicotine attenuated intracellular Ca(2+) signal from poly(I:C)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Collectively, these results indicate that poly(I:C)-induced molecular responses of macrophages could be significantly attenuated by nicotine.

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