In a new report appearing in the November 2016 issue
of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, a team of
researchers from the United States and Sweden have
shown that nicotine activates neutrophils (white
blood cells) which in turn release molecules that
lead to increased inflammation.
"Our study reveals an explanation how nicotine
contributes to induction of inflammation and in
doing so shows new possibilities for future
therapies to treat tobacco-related diseases which
each year lead to premature deaths of several
million people worldwide," said Constantin Urban, a
researcher involved in the work from the Umeň Centre
for Microbial Research in Sweden.
To make this discovery, the researchers stimulated
isolated neutrophils from humans and mice with
nicotine and could measure a dose-dependent release
of inflammatory molecules.
By using pharmacological small molecule inhibitors
as well as neutrophils from genetically modified
mouse strains the team could identify essential
receptor and signaling pathways involved in the
nicotine-mediated activation of neutrophils.
"The cancer-causing effects of smoking have been
known for decades, but how smoking is related to
immune changes has been less clear," said E. John
Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of
Leukocyte Biology. "Because of the direct link
between nicotine itself and inflammation, this study
has important implications including that
alternative forms of nicotine inhalation, such as
vaping that lacks other chemicals from cigarette
smoke, may nonetheless still have detrimental
For more information
Nicotine induces neutrophil extracellular traps.
J. Leukoc. Biol. November 2016 100:1105-1112;